Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 years ago, I was in a high school art class

Near Greenwich Village in Manhattan, the "Tiles for America" exhibit honors people who died and pays tribute to a great country that took a big hit on Sept. 11, 2001. I'm not sure if this tile was purposely broken for symbolic reasons or if it just cracked because of weathering.

Most everything that has happened this week has been a reminder of how time flies.

It was one year ago that I started my current job, a position that has been rewarding at times, frustrating at others. But it has been, most of all, educational, enlightening, satisfying.

Having difficulty seeing recently, I went for an eye exam. That made me think of the last time I had a checkup: five years ago. The doctor dilated my pupils, and I had a headache for the following 10 months. I even had to get a CAT scan. This time around, I had them dilated again, and the result? I just can't see anymore. Everything is blurry.

And it was seven years ago today that I was in art class during my senior year in high school. I was sitting beside a cute girl, so it was a good day - until my teacher, Mrs. Huwa, walked in and said the World Trade Center was hit by a plane and that the White House was on fire.

The superintendent decided to release everyone from class early that day. As we were waiting for a bus ride home, my fellow students asked my history teacher what all this meant. We were attacked, so it surely would lead to war, right? We were mad. We wanted revenge. We wanted war.

My end-of-the-year project for that art class was a tribute to those who died on Sept. 11. I thought it was ugly. It was a plaster casting of my own face that was painted in the design of the American flag. I plugged flames into its nostrils, symbolizing the attack. In place of each ear was one of the twin towers. A reflection of the Manhattan skyline was painted onto its eyes. There was a red tear streaking down a white stripe of the flag. It looked awful.

But the teachers thought it was cool. The high school bought my masterpiece for $100, and it will forever hang, attached to a plaque bearing my name, on the library wall.

It all seems like yesterday. I hope time stops going by so fast. Especially today. Because today, we must pause and remember.

During my internship in New York last summer, I took some photos at ground zero. In this one, you can see the newly rebuilt 7 World Trade Center to the right.

Directly across the site where the twin towers once stood is the Deutsche Bank Building, where two firefighters died last summer when flames broke out on the 17th floor of the vacant building.

Construction of the Freedom Tower recently reached ground level, though you can see in this photo that it was well below that level last summer.

This man is a conspiracy theorist who shouts his ideas to the tourists at ground zero. I think he was saying something about a missile. The bald guy was generous enough to put some cash into his milk jug.


Anonymous said...

That you were just a senior in high school on 9/11 makes me feel very, very old...

Andrew Knapp said...

But I've been in Florida for a year, so I feel old, too.