You can't make sense of everything

By: Katie Garringer-Maccabe

Issue date: 9/11/07 Section: Opinion
Like nearly every now-college-senior who went to high school in Indiana, on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was knee-deep in lame questions over reading comprehension and analogies. The class of 2004 was taking the ISTEP standardized exam, and no one wanted to break our concentration to inform us what was happening on the East Coast.

During a break between test sections, I started a note to a friend: "Hey Kathryn! Nothin' has really happened today." I never finished the missive, but weeks later, I found it buried in a notebook. The date and time at the top (9:30, 9-11-01), combined with the carefree message, sent chills down my spine. Just as people use "September 10" as a metaphor for the pre-9/11 mindset, that note symbolized my last hours in that comparatively innocent world. After every test-taker at Ben Davis High School put down their No. 2 pencils, we were informed by our principal of what almost everyone else already knew: an extremely bad thing had occurred.

My family went to the suburbs of New York City to visit my grandmother in the summer of 2004, as we did most summers. My sister Kelly and I spent a whole day running around Manhattan, people-watching and poking around overpriced Fifth Avenue boutiques. After buying a vintage hat in the Village, I realized we weren't far from Ground Zero, so we trekked down in that direction. For the last few years, I had secretly longed to go there, hoping that somehow being at the scene of the tragedy would help me make sense out of it. As I walked there, I anticipated some sort of cathartic experience. I would see the site and understand that senseless event. Closure was just around the corner!

We knew we were close when we saw carts and tables hawking patriotic merchandise, covered in those familiar photographs that threaten to both connect us and numb us to the actual event. Kelly and I walked past a building and then: there it was. The gaping hole. I stared for a few minutes, increasingly consumed by a tangible emptiness. My sister and I then went into a clothing store nearby and resumed our usual consumeristic behaviors, unable to articulate what we had just seen and felt.
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