Seven years ago.
I was a teacher.
I was driving to work at 5:46 a.m., getting on the freeway, starting a day in the second week of school.
I told Justin, my mother, my brother to turn on the news.
I listened to NPR.
I saw a building fall while I stood in my co-worker's classroom quickly revising our lesson plan because we just couldn't give a writing test when the nation had just been attacked. When buildings had fallen. When children's parents were in New York and we were in San Diego and no one knew why or what was happening. We gave them the homework assignment, color a map of Greece to prepare for our Oedipus the King reading. Watch TV if you want to, go back to the other room and do not look.
I still remember that one boy and his question. "Miss Gupta, why did they do it?"
I still remember having no answer. Being offended and bewildered at the very idea that I might know. Why? Because I am Gupta because I am a teacher because I am the only adult in a room full of 15-year-old sophomores.
Just before 6 a.m. I heard the news on a music radio station and did not believe it.
Now, seven years later, those kids were just fifth graders when it happened. What was the impact on their lives? They don't know much about living before 9/11; what does a kid know of politics before they've even stopped playing after school.
Seven years later 9/11 is just one of the reasons I can't teach anymore. One of the reasons that teaching is too much. One of the reasons I serve food instead of knowledge and literature and do not have homework--because I just couldn't stand needing to have so many answers any more. Those kids are in college now. I wonder what they remember, what they think.
It will be a quiet night at the restaurant tonight.