I have no dramatic tale to tell. As is true of most of us, I was not in New York City. I was at home, thousands of miles away, when my son told me to turn on the television because a jet had just crashed into the World Trade Center.
I was teaching that day. I was almost dressed and needed to walk out the door to get to the college, a half hour or more away. I was frozen in front of the television. I was horrified. I couldn’t stay. I had to get in the car and drive away. I was lost and numb, not knowing what to do, except that I had a class waiting for me; I had to go to school.
I called my friend and she told me another plane had crashed, it was deliberate, we were under attack. She described what was happening. A voice on the car radio said that the buildings collapsed like candles melting. I didn’t know what to do. I was lost and numb. I had a class waiting for me. I kept driving.
I arrived at school and there were only four or five students in my classroom, three of whom knew what was happening and two who had no idea. We told them. Another woman walked in who knew nothing. We told her. Plus, there were new rumors. I was in charge. They were all staring at me, waiting for me to do something. I turned numbly to the whiteboard and drew a line and tried to remember the point I was about to make about writing, about plots, about novels….
My director entered the classroom. She said there was a missing plane; nobody knew where it was; there were missing planes all over; the whole country might be under attack–so many mad rumors, and school was cancelled.
My students’ relief was so obvious I wished I’d just sent them all home immediately that morning, but I was numb, I wasn’t sure I had the authority, I was lost, I was in charge and didn’t know what to do.
And with exchanged urgent words of caution and warning, the students began leaving, while I was shoving all my things into my bag, and then there was only one student left, a Mexican immigrant who was there to learn how to write a novel, whose English was good but not perfect, who was eager and excited and lovely to teach and–she and I fell into each other’s arms and wept.
And finally, I was in the car driving home, with an empty sky over my head, the radio on, afraid, confused, numb.
I bought a Qur’an today for .95, a digital copy that can be read on computer or iPhone or any device that has a free Kindle app from Amazon. I don’t know if I’ll read any of it. I do know that when Bin Laden launched an attack on my nation, he did not want people like me to buy Qu’rans; he wanted to start a war. When crazies want to burn Qu’rans, they are his minions, playing into his hands.
I bought a Qu’ran today, because I refuse to let Bin Laden and the crazies on all sides win.