Friday, September 11, 2015

I remember and I hope

I decided in 8th grade, after attending public school my entire life, that I was terrified of attending the public high school in my town.  It was big, the upperclassmen were mean, and surely, I would never make it.  So I convinced my parents to send me to the all-girls catholic high school, one town over.  The school itself was about the same size as the middle school both in terms of physical size and number of students - so despite only knowing the 3 or 4 girls from my school who were also going (instead of the entire 8th grade class), it seemed less 'unknown'.  And I hate the unknown.  After my freshman year, we moved.  It was not a big move - practically across the street, but far enough that we had changed towns and school districts.  This wasn't a big deal at the time - I was at a private school, so school district didn't matter, and I wasn't any further away from my friends.  Cool.  Except for what happened during my sophomore year.

I was on the varsity competitve cheer team.  About midway through the season, at one of our night time practices, we were drilling our switch splits - a move where you go into your splits on one side, then without coming up off the ground, pivot your hips so you're on the opposite side.
To make this look cooler in competition, while we were in our right splits, and before switching to the left, we leaned all the way forward and touched our nose to our right knee, quickly got back up, then pivoted to the left.  The whole move was done in less than one 8-count (and if you know what that is, you know it was a quick progression).  So anyway, somewhere in the time it took to the lean down, get up, switch, I felt my hip pop.  I had dislocated it.  I couldn't walk, it hurt, it was generally awful (as you can imagine).  The doctor said I should recover in about a week, but it took nearly the rest of the season for me to get my full range of motion back.  When I finally did, it was just in time for our regional competition. And my coach didn't let me compete.  Not competing in regionals meant that I also would not get to compete in states (if we qualified - and we did).  She essentially kicked me off the team just in time for the most exciting and important part of the season.  I was crushed.  I went home and sobbed in my mom's bed for 4 hours (I was a teenage girl in high school...this shit was important)!  Then I decided I was not cheering for that team again.  So naturally, this meant I needed to switch schools.

So the next year, I started my junior year at the new public school in town - the one where I didn't know anyone, because we had moved.  I had made the cheerleading team and I thought that meant things were going to be great.  I had a whole team of new friends and everything was going to be awesome.  It was not.  None of the cheerleaders talked to me at school and I had no friends at school for a year and a half.  I begged my parents to let me go back to my old school.  They didn't.  Which brings me to the story I actually intended to tell today.....

It was the beginning of my senior year of high school.  Normally, this is an exciting time in a person's life.  I was still dreading going to school everyday.  I was in my 3rd season as a varsity cheerleader, and my teammates still didn't talk to me.  I was making some progress with the people in my choir class, and they would eventually become very close friends - but that wouldn't happen for a couple more months.  On particularly depressing days, I would fake sick so that I didn't have to be there and endure the loneliness that was my life everyday.  This particular day was in the middle of spirit week.  I don't remember the exact theme of the day, but for some reason I was dressed like Britney Spears (a la "Hit Me Baby One More Time").
I'm not sure what I was thinking.  I was so self-conscious when I got to school.  So it became another fake sick day.  I needed to go home.  I decided to go to choir class then call my mom to come get me before lunch.  At some point in the middle of class, Dawn got up and started to walk out.  Our teacher, G. Byron Turner (because you always need to use his full name) tried to stop her.  She shut him down real quick - saying something about a plane flying into a building in new york, she was going to find out more and he wasn't going to get in her way.  And she left.  And that was all I heard or knew.  I didn't even pay much attention really - all i remember is Dawn and G. Byron Turner getting into it and Dawn storming out.  And that was it.  The period ended, my classmates went to lunch, and I went to the office to call my mom.  When she got me she was crying and she started to explain what had happened - she was contemplating pulling my sister out as well, but ultimately decided against it.  I still didn't fully comprehend the gravity of what was happening. We went home and I laid on the couch and watched the footage over and over again.  The rest of the da was mostly a blur.  The only other vivid memory I have was watching this.

This is really the first thing I think of when I think of 9/11.  This was a senseless act of terror - yes.  But it brought our country together.  For that day, and for the weeks, and maybe even months that followed, we were one.  We were Americans.  I wonder if this would still happen today.  If this had happened today - in 2015 - instead of 2001 - what would the reaction have been?  I'm not sure we're still capable of this kind of unity and compassion anymore.  I see a lot of blaming and name-calling that would be thrown around.  I know I'm guilty of a lot one-sidedness a lot of the time.  But despite that, I still hope for a day where we're not so divided.  Where it's not the socialist liberal elite vs the conservative christian right.  Where we can live, and love, despite our differences.  Have compassion for our fellow man.  Admire & respect the value in every human life, despite differences in background, faith, belief, culture.  We are a country built on a foundation of difference and diversity.  Of understanding that we're not all going to be the same.  And that's OK.  Can we please get back to that?
What ever happened to the Great American Melting Pot??
You simply melt right in,
It doesn't matter what your skin.
It doesn't matter where you're from,
Or your religion, you jump right in
To the great American melting pot.
The great American melting pot.
Ooh, what a stew, red, white, and blue.


  1. it's funny, not even being an American, I still vividly remember when I found out what happened too. It's one of those things I guess that is burned in your memory forever.

  2. How did I only find out about your blog now??? You're great!!! Glad to add you to my regular reads.