September 11th… We Have History.

My first birthday cake (9/11/79)… I was probably analyzing the best method of attack.

At approximately 10:50am in 1978, September 11th and I began to form a bond that would go on to last a lifetime to say the absolute least. This would become the day that as a kid I would get so hyped up that I would establish countdowns to simply because the date would involve celebration, presents, and most importantly… FOOD. In grade school, 9/11 was the day that marked my becoming another year older, which meant I could puff my little bird chest out a little bit more. THIS of course meant I was more… well… “grown”… or so I thought. I mean saying, “I’m 10” always sounded so much better than saying, “I’m 9” combined with whatever large fraction I could find to attach to my age in attempts to make myself sound even older, right? There were some 9/11’s where rather than baking a cake, Moms would make my favorite pie (cherry) and put birthday candles in that! Other times, I may have asked her to bring in cupcakes in for my classmates on 9/11 so that they could partake in one of my favorite pastimes: being greedy as all hell. Then of course, the highlight of my 9/11 was coming home after school and asking Moms if I could open the gifts that she and Dad picked up for me, not realizing at the time how fortunate I truly was………….. Well, then I would tear those presents open as if I had no home training at all.

Yeah, September 11th and I go back a quite a ways…

The World Trade Center Towers, NYC

9/11 began a bit differently in 2001. Already graduated with Bachelor’s in Studio Art (Graphic Design), I was still living in Bowling Green, KY working on pre-requisite courses for an MBA Degree a/k/a “I didn’t know what then hell I wanted to do with my life at that particular time.” Young, silly-acting and all set to turn 23, I began the early morning hours by running my mouth on the phone all night, which consequently caused me not to get much sleep at ALL, with the exception of maybe 30-45 minutes on the couch of my apartment after finally laying down at about 5:30am. One of my cousins from Florida called me to wish me a Happy Birthday…… At 6-something AM. He hit me with, “Happy Birthday cuuuuz…”  My response was something like, “#@%&!!!!, You realize it’s 6:00 in the damn morning??!…. Well… At least you called, thanks a lot.” After getting off of the phone with him, I decided like a crazy person to drive to campus so that I could get an early morning workout. Surprisingly, I had sufficient energy to start and complete the full workout routine. Upon finishing, my number one objective for the day then became: GET SOME REST… IMMEDIATELY. I got back to the apartment, took a shower, and was fully prepared to get in the bed, cover my face with the covers to help shield any additional morning sunlight that wanted to try and peek through the blinds and then drift off into dreamland. But by the time I peeled the covers back, the phone rang… I didn’t answer it. I had sleeping to do. …The phone rang again…. Same thing, I didn’t answer it. I definitely wasn’t expecting the phone to ring a third time in a row. So finally, I decided to pick it up…. It was one of my boys calling from campus. No “Hello”, just straight to…

“AYO… They flying planes into the Twin Towers!”

Wait a minute… Huh?! THE Twin Towers?…. What do you even say to that? Except for, “The hell are you talking about?!”

“Maaan, turn the TV on CNN! It’s on there!”

I hung the phone up, went downstairs and turned the TV on and not only was it on CNN, but on EVERY channel there was a shot of the Twin Towers. By this time the North Tower had already been hit, was still on fire and some of its floors were engulfed in smoke… The first thing I thought about was my best friend and then former roommate who had JUST moved out of the apartment to NYC two or three weeks prior. I was trying to call him… Nothing. I couldn’t get through – there were way too many calls going to New York at the time and the phone carriers were overextended. As I was attempting to call him, the calls began pouring in to my phone. To this day, I have never witnessed that much call activity on a phone that I owned in my life. Birthday wishes quickly turned into a, “Maaaan, this shit is crazy!” conversation… My mother even called and said,

“Are you watching the news?!! ………OH!! Happy Birthday.” 

That was a pretty hilarious moment to me looking back on it. But I think the seriousness of 9/11/01 REALLY sunk in when I saw the second plane hit the South Tower on live television… I was actually on the phone with someone at the time and we BOTH blurted out, “Oh SHIT!! ….Did you see that?!?!!” …and then there was just silence. I later found out that a young lady I grew up with was actually able to evacuate from one of the towers and avoid harm. Ironically enough, her first day on the job happened to be Monday September 10th, 2001.

The main question of the day became, “Where are they gonna hit next?” And even more importantly, WHO exactly is “they?” I even remember the mall in Bowling Green, KY closing down early that day and I thinking…. “Maaaaaaaan, terrorists ain’t thinking about attacking the damn Bowling Green mall!!” This was one day that I will say that there was entirely too much going on, but there was absolutely nothing you could do about it but remain glued to the news. Oh, and I failed to mention the fact that I had an Economics exam scheduled for 5:30pm that day as well… Let’s just say I didn’t get to finish studying for it. And that sleep I was attempting to get all day, that didn’t happen either. And while I was hearing that campuses were canceling classes nationwide, we still went to Economics class that evening and took the exam. It was the only thing I got a “B” on the entire semester… But on the way back from class, I stopped through Best Buy and scooped up the following new releases…  Jay-Z’s The Blueprint CD and the Blow DVD.

No one really understood just how deeply we would be impacted by 9/11. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I was on a plane less than two weeks later. I sat down in my assigned seat and noticed that I had an entire row to myself. Hell… I had damn near the entire plane to myself! It seemed to have come with a cost because for the first time, I stood in a security line for almost an hour and a half. I remember being sent to a checkpoint of security where they would look through you bag in front of you by hand – tossing, lifting, shaking and adjusting the clothing in your suitcase until they were satisfied that you were “clean.” There were so many copycat acts of terrorism that followed that it just got to be ridiculous. For example, we can blame kats like Richard Reid for our having to place our footwear in a bin and having to walk through security detectors shoeless. The proces of catching a flight and even picking someone up from the airport hasen’t been the same since. Things changed damn near overnight pretty much to the point where we can specifically point to two very distinct eras in modern history, “Pre-9/11” and “Post 9/11.” 

Showing no mercy on my birthday cheesecake during a restaurant celebration in September 2001 …Normal activity.

Well… Post-9/11, I have chosen since its first anniversary in 2002 not to watch the news or any 9/11 related documentaries that day. As a matter of fact, I’ve watched one documentary on 9/11, of which I checked out only once back in 2003. It was so extremely detailed, well produced and ridiculously heavy that I don’t feel the need to look at any others… Since 9/11 and I have such a rich history, I will continue to utilize it as a day of celebration with my family and close friends… AND a celebratory alcoholic beverage…. AND a helluva plate of food!!  

“Happy B-Day! Love, Zo” was the cake I made to mySELF in 2001… 

Prayers and respect to those who were affected by the events of 9/11.

Love to my 9/11 Birthday family… Miz Korona, Jade, Curtis, and my brotha Grap Luva…