I appreciate your choice, very much!
Yep, we were only speaking Italian. I say “we were” not because we stopped, but because now we moved to the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland so the whole language problem went away by itself I’m sorry she never actually became bilingual but in the end who cares, she’s happier now.
You´d seen worse.
17 years ago, my friend and I were sitting in my parents car each having a bottle of coke (we used to do that a lot back then, especially in the summer because it was chill in garage and the drinks were standing next to it).
We switched on the radio and there was this hip youth show where the host couple where fooling around, joking having fun.
“Haha, yeah…we´re just getting this weird newsupdate. Haha, mhh, it says the World Trade Center in New York just collapsed?”
And then the tone switched from jokey to serious and they passed on to the news.
We ran up to the living room where my parents where watching TV and we watched the second tower collapse on live TV. That was one of the most surreal days of my life.
A week later we were all sitting by the Danube and watched a group of fighter jets fly from west to east and we thought: “Oh, no. Now it starts!”
That december I was on my first anti war demonstration (second in total I think).
I think that was the time many in my generation became political concious from one day to the other.
I was at a friend’s house playing Supreme Snowboarding on his PC when his mother entered the room saying “a plane crashed on one of the twin towers in NYC!”. We suddenly stopped playing and turned on the news.
We saw the second plane crash live. We were like “what the hell is going on?”, then the news talked about a third plane near the Pentagon. We didn’t think about the people that we saw dying live, the fact that we were living a historical event live was bigger than that. The feeling came later, after we saw the towers collapse.
In retrospect, I’m pretty surprised we didn’t have a third world war at the time.
That´s what most of us feared back then.
The reason for that is that a world war can only take place between symeterical powerful forces. The US fought miltarily weaker countries (that weren´t in fact in posession of WMDs) that had no strong allies. All they did was excecute their revenge in the countries that bombed them so there were terror attacks in London, Madrid and Moscow. So it didn´t exactly feel like an all out world war, but there were certainly civil casulties on both sides.
Yet it is quite seen elsewere, anyway I like the idea of a “where I were that day”-game, like a 9/11-themed section inside this thread. It is a way to remember, to share, to understand how much that event changed us all.
In 2001, I used to live with my parents. I was a university student, a couple of years later I would graduate and get my own place. I had a girlfriend back then who studied in my course. Neither my parents nor my siblings were at home. I was at home with my girlfriend. The house was silent, the table of the kitchen was covered with books, notes, sketches, diagrams. Our moka was running full steam since the early morning and the air was permeated by the smell of the last coffe batch. You could literally feel our concentration, if you were there. It was early afternoon.
Suddenly, the telephone rang. I heard the voice of my grandmother on the other side of the line. She was somehow upset. She had AD and she lived with a caregiver, but that was the first time I heard her screaming like THAT.
“We are at war! We are at war!”
Ok, here we go -I thought. Her pathology just got suddenly worse. Let’s prepare to hard times from now on…
When she gasped and added “look by yourself, turn on your TV set, quick!”, I started to understand she wasn’t delirious, she was just panicked.
I was staring at my girlfriend, or maybe I should say “through her”, with the phone at my ear. She was wondering why I was so strange.
“Who’s on the phone?”
“What’s the matter?”
“…she says we are at war”.
“… she says to turn on the TV set”
My girlfriend turned on the TV pretty much when the second plane was hitting the towers.
I still stood with my phone in my hand.
My grandmother was nearly crying: “Ema, whats’happening? Please, tell me what’s happening, I’m scared…”
“I… I… Don’t worry, grandma. It’l be fine. Thanks for calling. Turn off the TV set and try to relax. I’ll try to understand, and then I’ll explain everything, ok?”
We spent the next many hours on the couch, like hypnotized, watching the people falling, seeing the towers collapse… Our books and papers remained open on the table. Our coffee remained chilling down in our cups.
We didn’t know what to expect, but we were sure the world would have never been the same. The study for our test was our first priority just a couple of minutes before, yet we didn’t feel the need to open those books for many days on.
Well, I don’t think I ever felt like you guys back then.
I was at high school, a school with a great anti-imperialist verve, I was super-used to anti Bush-Blair-Berlusconi demostrations. There were some really clever points of view on the perils of globalization that - unluckily- are now pretty much realized, since the leadership of the middle class in western world never really tried to regulate this phenomenon, and experienced it with an unjustified faith in the future (which is justified if you work to build something with equality). Anyway that was the climate back then, I was used to talk about Gulf War, the western world and its wars in middle east and so on. Then when I turned on the TV, I was never particularly surprised: first I thought of an accident, then of a terrorist attack, but I remembered the massacre in Bologna and all the other disasters here in Italy caused by internal terrorism, and I felt for the poor Americans up there. I also thought many times Bush was totally unfitted to handle United States and relationship with Middle East, and in particular the secret service. Anyway I was sad, but little or no scared for consequences, but the innocents (and the professional soldiers) that would have died in a come-back of the war of the Western World in the Middle-East.
I soon got back to choose my clothes for the evening: we had the Birthday Party of our classmate. When I went there, I discovered less than half of our class was there: the party was at the last floor of a tall residential building among the skyscrapers of the directional centre of Naples (they feared possible attacks).
I know it seems I’m a little cold regarding some events, but I always think of the reasons that originated them, because it’s there that a possible resolution hides.
Sometimes I think I would have been a great investigator.
Frankly I don’t think that your approach (trying to understand, basically) is somehow incompatible with the astonishment and the vacuous sense of uncertainty regarding the future we experimented. I was aware of the issues you mention, too, but seeing them so suddenly and brutally materialized is quite a “shower of reality” to translate in english a common saying I like.
I wasn’t surprised. I understood quite soon what was going on. I just thought “it’s really happening. Everybody knew that it could be possible, but neither an Hollywood writer would have imagined it so huge”. Hence the feeling “things will never be the same”.
Of course the events that lead to that made sense, especially since the same people were behind it who already made an attack on the WTC 8 years prior.
But to react to this with “Sure, that was bound to happen” takes a bit more than a healthy amount of cynicism.
Yes, there were also people who thought like that. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a great movie to confront also with this analysis. I remember I went to see it at the cinema.
I personally was surprised. But on a side stands the feeling for the persons suffering, that was high, and on the other side a sense of a great change in the world, which I never had.
I aknowledge, but I don’t understand.
Please everybody forgive me if my comparison is inappropriate, but…
It’s like when you lose your virginity.
Obviously you know it may happen.
Obviously you know how and why it will happen.
Obviously the reasons and the mechanisms that lead you to lose it will remain the same after the event.
But you can’t say it isn’t a big change in you.
If it makes you happy that I say 9/11 was a big change in me, or I felt the world would have never been the same as a consequence of that very event… I’ll say that . Do you think it’s better now? I’ve never said I’m superior or inferior to you, guys, I felt just… different, and I tried to explain why and a little anecdote about that evening. That’s all. We are all sad for what happened, and I wish it never happened at all, but I always thought of the reasons why it happened, because that’s something that can teach us about future choices. But that event was part of a way longer process the world was living (and partially still is).
No, luckily knowing that people can feel and think differently from myself doesn’t make me feel more secure or happy, or whatever. Vive la difference, but If I understood you, we wouldn’t be different any more.
And I didn´t even mention anything about my personal feelings that you compare yourself to here, just what the general vibe was at the time.
9/11 just felt surreal. I was just going up the stairs to my room when my dad called out that I should see this. For a second, perhaps two, I thought it was the trailer for a new action/disaster movie or something.
Next thing I know, we randomly invaded Iraq. That and the Pim Fortuyn murder probably had a much bigger impact on my generation than 9/11 as such.
@milanfahrnholz Do you mean the years following 9/11 in general or that day specifically?
I’ll say exactly that. How is that a big change?
What I meant to say was that the first consequence in my circles was that out of fear for a greater war (due to an over agressive answer by the US) an anti war movement formed, where we went to lots of demonstrations and generally started to inform us better about politics in general. It was sort of an awakening.
Certainly nothing of the sort happened among my circle of 15/16 year olds. We were already pretentiously debating all those topics and maybe we did it slightly more intensely for a little while.
Let´s say it went beyond “neo nazis are bad and we have to fight them” which was the extend of most of our politics up to that point. The conciousness for the global situation certainly grew after 9/11.
The time I became a slave (but my daughter didn’t)
I was in Genova a couple of weeks ago with my family. I talked about it in the travel thread, but there’s an episode that made me giggle and I feel like telling it. We visited the Museo del Mare (Sea Museum) which has different sailing-related exhibitions, most of which interactive, so it’s interesting for children. There was a great display of cannons, but the cannons were too big for my daughter to enter and we didn’t have any pots available so she couldn’t have entered them anyway.
There was also a wooden ship on whose interior there were two projected screens that showed some pirate-era workers, making it look like the ship was bigger than it actually was and they were inside with us. There were three buttons which started three scenes explaining what the life was like as a slave and two other categories that I can’t remember now. I was with my older daughter, I clicked the “slave” button and the two guys on screen began their scene.
One of them looks into the camera (so, into the spectator’s eyes), then to the other guy and says “here’s a new one, maybe he speaks your language”. The other guy talks in something that sounds arabic.
Then, just for laughs, I say out loud “hey, no, I speak Italian”.
But then the first guy in the video says “oh, you speak Italian? Strange, not many of you get sold as a slave”. That’s when I decided I had to try my luck and keep on answering the video. The dialogue went on roughly like this.
Video: “So, what are you? A pirate? Or some political prisoner?”
Me: “Heck yes, I’m a pirate”
Video: “Good, I’ve always preferred pirates. Hey, don’t smile like that. You won’t be smiling after you begin working here”
Me: “I’m not afraid, I’m strong”
Video: “They’ll crush you, pirates don’t make good slaves”
Me: “I’ll be different”
Video: “I see they didn’t shave your hair yet”
Ok, that’s it, the game is over, I thought. I was freshly shaven, hair and beard. I kept on anyway.
Me: “You should get your eyes checked, they already did”
I don’t remember what was the next thing the guy on the video said, it was something intended to explain what the usual working day for a slave was, like “now go and get your role for the day and then go blah blah”, whatever, I don’t remember because in the middle of his speech my daughter began jumping and flailing her arms and shouted "Hey, I’m also there, not just my dad!"
The exchange was so perfect that she thought it was actually interactive