Time and Place
In Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction authors Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd describe how in “The White Album,” an autobiographical essay by Joan Didion about the 1960s, Didion “uses her own responses to the times as a means of trying to capture a broad truth about events.” Choose a period in your life, and write an essay about loosely related events you experienced that together offer insight into a certain time or place.
-This prompt was taken from Poets & Writers website (http://www.pw.org/writing-prompts-exercises)
We were on the way to school, on a normal September morning. Normal for being a Freshman in highschool. We listened to the radio, which was unusual because we usually listened to my brother’s cd’s when the announcer told us about 9/11. My sister and I had never heard of the twin towers, but my brother had been to New York a couple of summers before so he knew what they were. His expression alone told us, that the World Trade Center being hit by planes was a big deal. We got to school and I went to my PE class, but we were running a couple of minutes late. I could tell nobody really knew what was going on yet, but me not even knowing what the twin towers were – I didn’t really know what to say or how to say it. I remember I was wearing a light blue t-shirt with polar bears from a Christian ska band (Five Iron Frenzy) that my brother had gotten for me.
Later that day I watched the news, because I felt like I probably should. They showed the same footage of the planes hitting the towers, the firemen going in after people, and people posting missing signs of their family over and over again. The only thing I remember thinking was that it might ruin my birthday, which was nine days away; then thinking immediately after that I was a selfish horrible person for thinking that.
Every Tuesday (or one day of the week) was ‘America’ day. I thought it was adequate to show my support by wearing blue dickey pants, and a tank top with American flags all over it. I don’t remember anybody else wearing clothes that were particularly American. I still didn’t understand the magnitude of what was happening in our country, but every Tuesday I wore my American shirt and prayed for the country.
The following year, I was in Sociology. On a regular basis, we discussed incredibly controversial topics. One week we discussed whether or not the US should go to war with Iraq. We had not been in war for my entire lifetime. Were potential ‘nuclear weapons of mass destruction’ a good enough reason to go to war with Iraq? Was Bush a trustworthy judge of why to go to war or why not to go to war? For some reason, as a new Christian I trusted his judgement as a fellow believer in Christ. I had faith in who God had put in charge of our nation. And how did this all relate to 9/11 anyways?
The following summer we went to camp with my youth group in New York. I’m from Las Vegas, so this was a very big (expensive) trip for us to take. It was such a big trip, that we were only able to get ten of us to camp. We had the chance, in our short time there, to visit where the twin towers had been. It was essentially a big, dirty construction site when I saw it. There was a big, wire fence surrounding the area. Solicitors, as I have realized is the case with every historically significant site, were attempting to use the tragedy for their own advantage by making money selling American memorabilia. I prayed again for the families who had been affected by the tragedy, but otherwise had no way of responding to what had happened to the World Trade Center.