The attack on 9/11/01 was a huge event that has changed my life forever as well as the recession that started in December 2007. Both events happened in very important times of my life. I believe I was nine years when the attack on the world trade center occurred. I was fifteen when the recession began. I definitely wasn’t prepared for the drastic change that was going to happen to my life. I remember it like yesterday. I was in third grade in Mrs. Goldstein’s class. I believe we were being taught on the subject of English.
Surprisingly, all of us were actually paying attention and we were very quiet. I guess maybe because we all felt something in the air. I remember waking up that day feeling strange, like something was going to happen but I just couldn’t tell when. Mrs. Goldstein was up at the board writing and we were copying what she was writing. We heard a loud banging sound hitting the door. As if someone was on the other side panicking. Mrs. Goldstein hesitated to open the door but then she heard a voice. It was Mrs. Varner. She was crying and yelling “He’s in there! Oh my god! My husband! Mrs. Goldstein didn’t know what to say and asked her what she was talking about.
Mrs. Varner then ran into our room and turned on the television. What happened next was totally unexpected. On the television were the towers of the World Trade Center in flames with planes smashed in at their sides. As a child I couldn’t really understand what was going on. Then the news started to show people jumping out of windows and people covered in dust running out of the building. I remember Mrs. Goldstein repeating “It’s an attack! It’s terrorists” Then the first building fell.
That was when Mrs. Varner (who had been recently married in May) got hysterical. Her husband worked in one of the towers since he had graduated college. She fell to the floor and started screaming and yelling because she couldn’t contact him. At that moment, parents were calling to pick up their children. Some even came to our classroom and pulled their child out. It started to hit me that this was real and that our teachers weren’t playing a trick on us. My mother picked me up at the same time the second building collapsed. I’ll never forget the silence.
Everyone just froze and stared at the screen. We all knew from that moment on things were never going to be the same and that we were under attack. When I went home my brother and sister were already home with my father waiting for us. When I went to sit with my brother and sisters I began to cry because I finally realized that thousands of innocent people had lost their lives. I remember sitting in out basement for a couple of hours with my family. I kept looking at my parents because they were trying to keep strong for us but the fear in their eyes didn’t fool us.
They kept glancing at each other and the ceiling expecting for the worst. The next day was the quietest day of my life. We knew we were going to go to war but we didn’t know with whom. From that moment on everything changed. I believe not just America, but the whole world took those hits. It affected all of us as humans. As a country and as United Nations our allies suffered our pain and opened their arms. In time the deep pain turned into a sting but the scar will always be there. And I can guarantee that I will never forget 9/11/01. The second event was the beginning of the recession in December, 2007.
The recession affected me very much. My life changed drastically in 2007. I was accustomed to living good and getting whatever I wanted when I wanted it. I was fifteen and I was getting home from school. I was rushing so that I could go to the mall with my friends. My father and my mother were in the kitchen going over something’s. There were a lot of papers on the table. I figured it was some bills or something regular that my parents always deal with. So I went to my room and got dressed. When I walked back in the kitchen my father asked me where I was going.
I told him I was going to the mall and that I asked the day before. He told me to sit down and that I needed to really listen to him. He told me that things were going to change around the house. And that I was not allowed to ask for anymore unnecessary things. If I didn’t need it, I couldn’t have it. It took me a while to process that. Out of selfishness, it was bothering me that I wasn’t going to the mall anymore. Also, that this meant that I wasn’t going to have the newest gadgets and the nicest clothes anymore. I blamed my parents for what was happening.
I thought it was their fault that we were going through this. Over the next couple of months, everything had changed completely. Instead of hanging out with my friends after school, I had started working at my parent’s restaurant. We had to cut employees because money was tight so that meant my sister and I were the new waitresses and my brother was the new bus boy. We went from living like a princess or prince to living as their servant. Spending more time with my parents made me realize that it truly wasn’t their fault. Seeing them struggle must have been the hardest part for me.
It was hard seeing my father and mother slave their lives away was killing me, so I put in more hours and I told them I like working and that I liked making my own money. I guess you can say that I was maturing. I had to, and it’s been that way ever since. I realized that my family wasn’t the only ones going through this when I went to school. My best friends would tell me how they’re parents were struggling as well and that they too needed to help out and get jobs. As a country we were going through this, together. My mother says that moving out of her house at sixteen was an event that changed her completely.
She says she had to become a woman in a matter of an hour. She was the oldest of four and she cared for her siblings as if they were her own. When she was a little girl her father was very strict. He was a general in Dominican Republic and he would implement that way of life in his home. He sent all four of his kids to catholic schools and my grandmother had no opinion. When my mother was home she was not allowed to go out nor have friends over. She was only allowed to go to the library with her aunt because she loved to read, and then straight home.
One day a boy saw my mother reading in the gallery and stopped by to say hello. He asked her if she liked to read and she said yes. He told her that he would bring her some books he thought she would like. The next day he stopped by again. This time my mother was with her mother and her grandmother. As usual my mother was reading and the boy called to her and showed her the books. My mother asked her mother and grandmother if it was okay to accept the books from the boy and they said yes. When my mother went over to the boy, my grandfather was just arriving home.
He saw the boy and looked at my mother. My mother was so afraid of her father that she dropped the books and ran inside. My grandfather had followed my mother inside and began to yell at her and spank her. He said she was never allowed to talk to boys. From that day my mother was fed up. She said that she felt like a prisoner and that she couldn’t take it anymore. So my mother secretly began so see the boy. Over time my mother decided to move out with him. When she told my grandfather he told her to leave and to never return again. Eventually, time passed and she came to America.
She divorced the boy who was now a man and met my father. They both knew they weren’t for each other and stayed as friends. And my mother started a new life with her new husband and he two kids and they expanded the family by adding three other kids. When I think about how my mother’s life was, it makes me realize that there are many girls today who go through the same situation. They deal with so much at home that they feel that running into the arms of a man is the only way. So many naive girls start their lives so young and don’t give themselves the chance to live and progress in the world.
Another event that changed my mother was death. Her brother was killed around the same time my mother was pregnant with my brother. As I said before, my mother had a strong connection with her siblings because she practically raised them. He was her youngest brother and he was a very successful doctor. He was at home on January 4th, 1986 he was doing his regular routines when the previous owner who lost the house my uncle bought to foreclosure. He made my uncle sign a check for $500,000 and shot him. My mother still to this day struggles with his death. She lost a part of her the day he was killed.
It made me realize that there’s death every day in the world. Even though it was so long ago, it still can affect you. We as humans aren’t that sentimental until it happens to us. We don’t really mean it when we say “I’m sorry for your loss” till we suffer that loss ourselves. I noticed that when I lost my grandmother. I myself would say it but there was no meaning behind it. I now understand what it feels like to lose a loved one. I guess that’s part of the human experience. You live and you learn. My professor once said that we were born a being, and we learn how to be human.
In conclusion, I have realized that all these situations aren’t the same and aren’t in the same time period but they’re human. As humans we all go through the same things. Whether it’s getting hit where it hurts, realizing you’re not being fed by a silver spoon anymore, forced into the arms of a man, or death, we can all relate somehow. We all go through the good times and the bad times. These situations happen every day and everywhere. Whether we live in Australia or in Dominican Republic, China, or next door we are all human and we all have the same book, just a different author.