My alarm clock went off. Our local hip-hop station, KUBE was playing, but there was a lot more talking than normal. In my grogginess I heard something about a plane but I hit snooze thinking it was all a dream. My dad works on planes so I thought somehow that had eeked its way into my subconscious.
My alarm clock went off again and I finally woke up. KUBE's DJ was saying something about a plane hitting a building when I came too and bolted up to turn on my TV. Every single channel was covering the tragedy. I watched as the 2nd plane hit and they started calling it what it was - terrorism.
My 18 year old brain tried to wrap around the possibilities. Why would someone want to fly into the World Trade Centers? Why New York? Who was responsible for this? There was a heaviness in my heart even though I didn't yet fully grasp the magnitude of the situation. It wasn't until I started thinking about all the innocent lives lost and the people who would have to live without them that I lost it.
Not knowing what else to do, I went to work at my retail job in the mall. The mall was eerily quiet and still. The air was filled with sorrow rather than the managers' normal banter back and forth or morning, Hellos.
My manager and I opened Wet Seal like we always did, but neither of us wanted to be there. I wasn't sure what, but I felt like there was something else I should be doing. My manager, Rita, called the district manager who already hated to fly and was stuck in Arizona. Rita was given permission to close the store when we noticed most of the mall was making the same choice.
Over the next few days, as more and more details were released about the tragedy, people started holding signs of support on one of the busiest street corners in our city. A few people turned into more turned into close to a hundred. For about a week, we'd gather on the corners at night after school or work to wave, and yell, dressed in red, white and blue encouraging cars to honk as they passed by. We screamed words of encouragement and loyalty. I'll never forget the masses of flags waving from those street corners, flapping from car antennas and anywhere else they could be affixed.
Our curbside gatherings did absolutely nothing to support those who actually experienced the tragedy but it was one way that people from all walks of life and different backgrounds could come together in a show of support and solidarity for our country. I've never been more proud of where I was from than on those nights following the tragedy.