9\11: Through the eyes of a child

10 09 2011

September 11, 2001

To me, it doesn’t feel like it has been 10 years. I can’t believe that I was only 6 years old when it happened because as I look back, the thoughts and reactions that I was having, and the people around me were having; it just seems like  there is no way we were first graders.

I was talking to my friend about it, and she told me that our generation was forced to grow up after 9\11. Especially those who were directly affected by it.  That day I remember waking up and getting ready for school, my Aunt and Uncle were visiting us from Belgium and they were supposed to leave on that day, but on September 10th I remember my parents talking with them and they decided that they would stay longer.  My mom and Aunt were awake and she was on the couch watching the news, it was probably around 7:30 because my 2 older sisters and I were getting ready to leave for the bus stop. 

Everything was the same that day, we went to the bus stop and a few of the older kids were talking about a plane crashing into a building, that they heard it on the news.  We lived about 40 minutes from the city (Chicago) and I thought they were talking about the Sears Tower. I remember coming to school and sitting in my desk and we all got quiet because the morning announcements were about to come on, but it was a strange cause different teachers kept coming in and out of our room, and they were whispering to each other.  We heard the announcements, got up and said the pledge, and sat back down.  ‘

That’s when our teacher went to the front of the room and told us that “Bad people had come and made a plane run into the world trade center.” People were asking why, and she didn’t really have an answer for us.  I don’t remember if I left school early, or if this was actually in class because the rest of the school day is just a blur to me. 

The next thing I remember is watching the TV as the second plane crashed into Tower 2, and later watching as the buildings came down.  I kept thinking to myself, “wait that can’t happen, don’t they know that people are in there?”  I remember being at home, and not really asking any questions I just sat around with my Parents and my Aunt and Uncle and we watched the news, I’m not sure they noticed that I was watching with them because they were in shock, but I did. I sat there quiet and confused as I heard words like “Terrorist”, and “Hijacking”, and “Radical Islam”.

I think as a 6-year-old I quickly came to the understanding that these people wanted to hurt us, and they did because I have never seen so many adults around me as confused as they were on that day.  I didn’t cry that first night because I felt numb.  Here I was, 6 years old watching people jump out of a burning building, because they had no other choice.  I realized that the adults around me, that I thought knew everything had no answers, so I didn’t ask questions.  It’s pretty safe to say that I was in shock. Even now as I look back on it, I can’t believe that this happened here, in America.  It just doesn’t seem real.

I don’t remember the next day, or pretty much anything from the 1st grade.  I just know for that after 9\11 I started having nightmares.  I guess as a child nightmares are normal.  But my nightmares didn’t consist of monsters or the boogeyman.  The things that scared me in my dreams were the faces of these middle eastern men, with the long shaggy beards, and the head scarfs.  That was my boogeyman. I would wake up so scared that I couldn’t move.  I heard about the war going on in the months to follow, and I was just scared.

Looking back I know this is wrong, and I am ashamed of myself for thinking this way, but we would go out and I’d see one of these men, and I would hide behind my Dad, or cling to him because I was so convinced that they were here to kill us.  I was scared and I didn’t understand why this had happened, and the people responsible, the faces that I saw on the news had me convinced that they were the enemy. Every single one of them. 

We lived about 45 minutes from O’Hare Airport so the air traffic was somewhat busy. Every time a plane would fly over at night I would brace myself and I would say over and over “God please”.  I would cry almost every single night because of the stories I heard, about families losing their fathers, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers. I couldn’t understand why or how this could happen.  In my family I am the one who is the most emotional. They used to tell me that I have too much empathy for my own good. (I used to watch the show “Charmed” and I was convinced that I was an empath like Pru and Phoebe). So seeing all the people crying, would make me cry.

After a while, I would get up regularly and watch the news. Years later I still do. I look back on 9\11 and I don’t see a 6-year-old girl who was too young to understand. I see a child who did understand, and who knew too much, and who saw too much, but I don’t regret it.  9\11 is apart of my history, and everyone elses no matter how young or how old because in the end it effected everyone.  I have never seen so many adults panic the way they did on that day.  We saw that, as children we saw the fear in our parents eyes, and that scared us.  And me being the curious person that I am, I wanted to know what was the source of that fear.  I wanted to know what was making mommy cry, and since no one would answer me, I turned on the TV and found out for myself. 

I think that being exposed to that helped me to understand the true meaning of a hero.  I think it was because of the events that took place, and the people who risked their lives to save others made me want to help to.  I remember telling my mom that I wanted to be a firefighter when I grew up, then it was a Cop, then it was a solider.  My mom couldn’t figure out, and to this day can’t figure out why I would want to do something like that.  She couldn’t understand why her daughter wanted to have such a dangerous job.  I guess I never really understood it either, but all I know is that 9\11 made me think.

It really made me ask myself, would I be able to run into that building to save someone’s life?  I think the men and women who risked their lives to do so are heroes.  I never had a hero that wasn’t a cop, or a solider, or a firefighter. My heroes are not made up, and they can’t fly. My hero’s are real people, who died because they considered others greater than themselves.

10 years later, and it still feels like it was just yesterday.  10 years later, and it still breaks my heart to think about it. 10 years later, and I every time I say the pledge I still think of that day, and all those people, and all the soldiers who have gone to war and have died for this country. 10 years later, and my hero is my oldest sister who is in the U.S. Army and representing our country. 10 years later, and I pray to God that I will never forget that day. 10 years later, and my heart still breaks for all of the families who have lost someone. 10 years later, and I still believe that on that day God cried as much as we did. 10 years later, and this country will come together, and we will all remember.

Love,

Naomi





The best years of my life?

22 08 2011

Ok, it has most definitely been a while since I had a chance to write.  I don’t know I’ve had a lot to say, but I got lazy, and didn’t feel like posting something new.

On that note, school has officially begun ( JUNIOR YEAR WHOOO HOOO), and I mean I can’t really complain. It’s a little weird because both my older sisters are graduated, one is in college, the other on an army base in Texas, so I’m the oldest at home now.  Before I always had my sisters here to drive me and pick me up, and they would be home before I was and now it’s just me, and my little sister.

I’m the one who has to drive now ( I hate driving), I’m the first one home, I’m in charge now, so-to-speak. It’s just different, so I have to adjust to that.  So this year, I have every AP class as a Junior, and 3 honors classes. My schedule is no fun.  I tend to stress out over things, whether it be school or sports I get anxious about it, to say the least.  But I tend to do my best, when the pressure is on, it’s like the more pressure I have; the more I freak out and the better I do, and when it’s over I just breathe, and it feels like I’ve been holding my breath it feels so good to let it out.

Anyways, I feel like I’m rambling a bit, but the thing that I wanted to get to was the fact that High School is quite literally, “The best of times, and the worst of times”. It can either be this great experience with friends, and activities, and freedom, or it can be a place that makes you uncomfortable, and you dread getting up every morning to walk through the God-forsaken hallways with people you don’t like, and people who don’t like you.  For me, it has never been to the point where I would hate going to school, but sometimes I just do not get the point of going to school.  I mean you have to get an education, that’s not the problem, my problem is getting up everyday and going to a place that feels like a black hole that sucks the life out of anyone, and anything that comes within striking distance.

There is so much more to life than just High School. So why do we put so much time and energy, not in our education, but in being popular and being liked. Why does it matter if you were Homecoming Queen? Sure you were captain of the Football team, and had the head Cheerleader as your girlfriend. (So cliché, I know).  But that is all people seem to care about, and I can’t stand it.  I got to the point where I just wanted to avoid contact with everyone in general, go through my classes, go home and be done with it.  I mean it’s 4 years of our lives, that we invest so much time in, but in the end does it really matter?

 

People often look back on their High School career and regret that they spent so much time, trying to fit in instead of actually going to school to learn.  I don’t get why people go to school to mess around. Don’t get me wrong I’m not as uptight as I seem.  I know how to have fun and play around, but I also understand that there are certain times where you have to be serious.  I know so many people who have dropped out, or have gotten pregnant and hardly show up (lets not sugar coat things, teen pregnancy happens everywhere), I am not heartless, and I know that things happen, but this is exactly why it bothers me so much.  Because my heart hurts for the people who sell themselves short, and for the ones who almost make it, but don’t quite finish the race.

I can’t be the only one who sees the bigger picture, no one is going to remember (if they do, no one is going to care) that you were the most popular kid in school. Good, be the most popular kid in school, but why can’t you be the most popular kid in school who ended up going to college and finding the cure for cancer.  I mean people call us the “Lost Generation”, and walking around school it breaks my heart, but sometimes I can’t help but think “Oh my gosh, they’re right.” They can’t be right, they won’t be right.  We have to prove them wrong, I know in my heart that these people I see everyday have the ability to change the world, I see it. All we have to do is open our eyes, and see it too. We are a brand new generation.

“I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”- Edward Everett Hale

-Naomi





Just Breathe..

6 04 2011

Sports are definitely a huge part of my life, they take up all my time, and no matter how frustrating they get I would never be able to give that up.  I started playing volleyball when I was 12 and I fell in love with it.  I’m pretty short (about 5 foot) but I was a power server and I could jump really high to get my hits so I play front row, outside hitter. I continued playing volleyball all through middle school and into highschool, but soccer is my number one sport.  My family is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and my father more specifically, played soccer his whole life.  I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and moved to Illinois when I was about 4 years old.  My dad taught my sisters and to play soccer but my sisters didn’t really like it.  Me being the middle child may be an explanation for always trying to get my parents attention, more specifically my Dad’s attention. I’m the go-to person in my family, anyone needs anything they go to me because they know it’ll get done and get done right. So when all my sisters quit soccer and refused to play with my dad because “they hated it”, I was the one who stuck around, and would sit around with him and watch all the matches on TV while my sisters rolled their eyes, and told me it was boring. I have 2 older sisters and a younger sister so it gets pretty hectic around here sometimes. I would always play pick up games with my dad, he coached an AYSO team that my sisters and I were on and I just really picked up on it.

It wasn’t until my 8th grade year going into highschool that I really started to get involved in soccer.  My freshman year I tried out and made the varsity team, and from then on I was hooked.  It was soccer day and night for me because I wanted to get better, I wanted to keep growing in the game.  I play left or right-wing on defense and I love it.  I have a tendency though to beat myself up over little things, whether it be in school, or sports one little mistake is enough to keep me up for the night, tossing and turning trying to figure out why I did that, and how I will never let myself make that mistake again, because for me being good isn’t enough.  I have to be better than good, and I have come to find out that I am my worst enemy.  I struggled this season not only as a sophomore and being one of the youngest on the team but also with finding some type of motivation.  I needed to figure out how to bring out the best in me during our games, and I couldn’t.  I would try, and try, but the result would always disappoint me, and I felt as if I let myself down.  I was upset, and angry all the time.  It got to the point that people would tell me to “shake it off, you did fine” and I would snap at them. I was mad at them because I felt like everyone was lying to me, I felt that everyone was just sugar-coating the truth and I wanted someone to tell me what I needed to do.  I couldn’t take playing like this, and it was effecting everyone on the team. 

I found it pretty ironic how I was going through this little funk, and Landon Donovan posted on twitter asking his followers what he should blog about next, something soccer related.  I was sitting in my french class bored out of my mind, like every other day because my whole family speaks french that class is extremely boring for me, (and my teacher is constantly speaking french wrong, but I don’t want to correct her. That would be rude. hahahaha)  So I’m sitting there on my phone, facebook, and twitter keeping me company, while I try to shake the nerves because I know that after this period I have a soccer game, and against a really good team, so it’s safe to say I was stressing just a bit.  I saw that tweet and I thought to myself,  “someone else has to understand how I feel right now. I can’t be the only one.” So I asked Landon Donovan to talk about who and what motivate him, and how he recoups mentally and emotionally after a tough loss.  I didn’t really expect him to respond to my tweet, just because I felt like it was so mundane, he probably got asked that question a million times already. So I kinda brushed it off, went off to my game and we ended up losing, and it was an intense game to say the least.  Everyone’s emotions were on high (not because we’re girls either) and when we lost it was just another thing that I had to deal with.  I went to bed, and replayed the game over and over in my mind, thinking if I just did this differently maybe we would have had a chance.  I got up in the morning, and I was in the worst mood, I just did not want to go to school or practice that day.  So I went on Twitter (i’m not addicted.) and I saw that Landon Donovan wrote his blog, and me being the curious person I am, read it and I was literally in tears.  (You guys totally have to check his blog out it’s legit landontimothy.wordpress.com)  #1. He responded to my question and #2. He just changed my whole perspective on EVERYTHING.  I can not explain how much a few simple words effected me (is it affect or effect, I can never get it right) I just love how everything comes back full circle. 

The main thing is having fun, and I took the fun out of the game I love by stressing out over every little detail. So, I have a game tomorrow, and that will be a battle as well.  But, I know what I have to do now. Relax. Have fun, and just breathe.

OH and Landon Donovan is my hero, honestly I get so much crap from everyone at school because I love the guys on the USMNT. (I keep telling people their legit but no one listens to me.) But oh well, He is honestly the most down to earth and inspirational person ever.  He’s really a great role model.

Alright there’s my babbling for the day.

-Naomi ❤





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6 04 2011

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