On my very first day of pre-school, nearly 3,000 innocent people were killed.
I remember the car being turned around. I remember frantic phone calls. I remember seeing fire on TV and wondering what it was from.
I’d just turned four less than a month ago, and already my life was being turned upside down by forces outside of my control. September 11th, 2001, changed the very thought process of millions of Americans. It changed the very structure of airports. It changed security everywhere. It changed the perception we have of all peoples from the Middle East. It changed our lives.
And I didn’t realize it as I was growing up. After all, I experienced it as it came, as sort of a natural progression. I grew up in a pretty green backyard while thousands of American troops were deployed and sacrificed their lives so that I could feel safe. I grew up while terrorists’ faces littered the television screen. I grew up in a world ravaged by hate, revenge, sacrifice, suspicion, racism, and paranoia.
Thankfully I was in a position where I was shielded from all of it. What I worried about most was school and when I could see the newest Harry Potter movie. I cheered when I heard Bin Laden had finally been killed, then went about my day, not bothering to think about what that actually meant for the world.
But now I’m 19 going on 20 and I’ve had the opportunity to dip my toes in the real world, just a little bit. I’ve had time to reminisce. In fact, I’ve been reminiscing a lot recently. After all, when times get hard and the world gets scary, the easiest (though perhaps not best) defense is to find a dark place and think about what it would be like to be 7 years old again.
Because I feel like I haven’t woken up in the past year and not seen breaking news about another stabbing, another shooting, another bombing, another terrorist attack.
Orlando. London. San Bernardino. Manchester. Nice. Brussels.
(Let’s not even get into Syria and Iran and Iraq, who are ravaged by terrorists almost daily. Terrorists they want nothing to do with.)
But I have no political message in this blog post. Or at least one that I’m going to outright type. It would serve me no purpose. We all know there are problems in the world. We all know that things need to change. The majority of the people that read this blog know my political views. The last thing I want to do is start more fights.
I just wanted to say that I am tired. Tired and scared and tired of being scared about everything.
For example, in planning to go to Pittsburgh’s Pride activities this weekend, my first thought was “what if something happens?”
My friend texted me and told me that he thought about how he would be one of the first ones to die if someone decided to bomb his place of work, because he works near the front in an office, just before the security gates.
I’m traveling over the holidays this summer and it absolutely freaks me the fuck out.
The worst part of all this is that I don’t know what to do about any of it. I’m not supposed to give in to fear, yet at this point, how can you not be afraid? I refuse to look the other way and live in ignorance, pretending that everything is fine. Because it’s not. I refuse to ignore the hate, the sacrifice, the suspicion, the racism, and the paranoia. If that means I am terrified, then so be it.
I will give into the fear. I will not give into anything else. I will not pass undue judgements. I will not justify (more) hate. I will not let this fear destroy anyone’s rights.
I love this world. I want to see it grow green and prosper.
But I’m so tired of living in it.