I remember sitting at my desk in my home office. I was working for The Cleveland Company, looking out over the back deck, listening to NPR, when I got a message from my brother-in-law.
"Are you watching this?"
"Listening on the radio," I said. "I imagine St. Paul is a mess right now."
"Not the World Trade Center in St. Paul," he said. "The one in New York!"
Not a little Cessna. Four large, passenger-bearing planes. Boeing 757s and 767s.
I hadn't been listening closely. It was a beautiful day in my neighborhood in Minneapolis. The air was pleasant, the leaves were turning, I was thinking about walking to the precinct to vote.
This past Friday Taylor said they talked in their classes about where they were when the Twin Towers were hit. These kids are all 16. They were babies then. Kindergarten...first grade. He said he didn't have a memory of that day.
"You guys didn't tell me," he said. "Why? I didn't hear about it for a couple of years."
I had no reason. No recollection of deciding to tell or not to tell. Nate would have been 11. Did we talk about it with him? I don't remember that either. I said, "Surely you had to have known something was going on. We probably had the news on all day." He didn't remember. I don't either. All I could say to him was that I didn't remember. That we may have made a conscious decision to shelter him from it. We may have intentionally kept it down low as topic of conversation. We've never really been into hiding dark things from the kids, but we might have. I just don't remember.
I remember the moments I saw it on television after Jeff told me. I remember walking to the precinct to vote and it was so quiet. Everyone at the polling place was quiet...murmuring to each other. Quietly handling bad news like all Scandinavians do.
The quiet is probably a bigger memory for me of that day and several days that followed. We lived under the flight line of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Planes had all been grounded. So there was an eerie silence for all those days.
It was also my sister Julia's 40th birthday. My brother-in-law had planned a wonderful meal out at a nice restaurant in St. Paul. He'd made reservations for our entire family. He was in Seattle and should have flown back in time for the meal. But he was stuck there. "You have to go ahead anyway," he told us. "It's her birthday."
And so we went to this restaurant, which was very empty, and we ate a fantastic meal and we talked about the day and we wished Julia a happy 40th and commiserated with her that her birthday would probably forever be marred by this national event.
I suppose everyone born on December 7 before 1941 felt that way too.