The private school I had been attending was only K-8 so after two years my stint with the school system at large was over. We had decided that I would continue my education at home under the guise of being able to finish early since my standardized test scores were off the charts. In most everything I was tested at a post college graduate level, the only thing I was truly lacking in was math. Since the school had also been a prep school many of my classes had counted toward my high school credit. I was no longer working on school work, I was working on credits to finish high school. One of these credits was attained through community service by volunteering at our church during a ladies afternoon brunch. I was in charge of watching the preschool age children while their moms went to Bible study and just had a nice little break from the kiddos.
It was the first time I had volunteered. I remember so clearly this crisp fall Tuesday in September not only because it was the first of my volunteer sessions but because it was also September 11th, 2001. Because we were in a room full of children we were late to hear the news of what had actually happened. We didn’t know anything out of the ordinary had taken place until about noon after all of the moms had picked up their children and we were busy cleaning up toys and craft supplies. The coordinator of the program popped into our room and asked if we’d heard the news. Mom, who had volunteered with me, and I looked at each other and replied that we hadn’t. I remember the news being delivered as swiftly and matter of fact as if she was explaining that the sky was blue. She said the country was under attack, two planes had flown into the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, but the President was alive.
At first it didn’t immediately sink in. I didn’t really know where the World Trade Center was, and this was the first time in my memory that our country had ever been attacked so close to home. At first I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t even know how I felt. I was scared, but not genuinely scared, it was more of a profound well of emotion bubbling up inside me and I didn’t really know how to deal with it. The more information I heard and absorbed the more overwhelming it became. I remember finishing up my duties in the room, and immediately running outside looking up at the clear blue sky. It was so eerily quiet, as if the entire world had just stopped moving.
The rest of the day was much of a blur. We went about our normal daily routine with the exception of having a television or radio always with in sight or reach. I spent the rest of the afternoon glued to the television. Watching, and rewatching the planes fly into the towers. People, literal people, raining from the sky as they tried desperately to escape. I watched live as both towers collapsed, and they announced the damage was extensive to several other buildings in the complex. I watched Congress gather together on the front steps singing beloved songs of our country, A beautiful display of strength, which inspired an admiration and pride I hadn’t felt for my country before. I had always been patriotic to a certain point, but in those moments I felt true pride.
Over the next few weeks in the blur of everything that happened, the more news I watched the more and more it set in. Not only had the country been attacked but we were going to war. War, not just some deployment of troops to far off lands to keep the peace but war, against an enemy that had plagued the very existence of freedom. One month after the attacks, the first time they replayed the news footage from the start to finish I watched every second of it, then made my way to bed.
Startled awake after a nightmare, was the first time I experienced a panic attack. I couldn’t breathe, and nervously paced back and forth from my bedroom to the hall way until I was able to calm myself down. Once I was able to breathe, I sat down at the desk in my room, pulled out a notebook and began to write. At first I was just writing down my dream, but then it took on a whole life of it’s own. My Hypergraphia took over in full swing, and I was off. Writing the first original draft of my very first novel. It was then that I discovered my gift for writing could also be used as a tool to combat my crazy emotional storms. Whenever I was feeling overwhelmed I retreated, notebook in hand to a secluded spot to write. Over the rest of the summer my novel consumed my life. Every moment of free time I had I was writing, and my notebook went with me everywhere.
The more I began to throw myself into the fictional world of my novel, the more my delusional world became less and less important. The friendships I valued so much and chose to embellish slowly began to fade away. First it was a few days of not talking to people online, then it became a few weeks, then a few months. Eventually I lost contact with pretty much everyone except the man whom I was “dating”. Even our relationship became more and more distant. The next few months became difficult for us to maintain the ruse that we were “together”. I don’t really know if he was sincere in his feelings for me, or if he was merely playing out some fantasy in his own mind. I was so young, and our relationship was so much of a blur between truth and fiction that I can honestly say I never truly knew the man. I chose to believe that his intentions were good, and pure whatever they may have been. I lost contact with him years ago, and really I’m no worse for wear. It was my own psyche that created something more than it was, and the emotional damage that was inflicted upon me from our break up was my own. Our relationship sputtered to an end on February 14th, 2002. I don’t know why that date was chosen, but we both agreed that what we had just wasn’t working (or healthy for that matter) and we needed to call it off.