my teacher dismissed us to second period and i looked back to see him covering his mouth and looking up at the television. i went to keyboarding class and watched from behind an old computer monitor as September 11 unfolded in real time.
a few days passed in stunned silence. in muddling through assignments and busy work and everyone in a state of half shock. then, my civics teacher brought a boom box in one morning, and a mixed cd. i'll never forget as he looked around and said, "please don't talk for the next three minutes. i was driving yesterday, and this song came on the radio. i had to pull over on the side of the road and cry." he then played alan jackson's "where were you (when the world stopped turning)."
that civics teacher is a basketball coach now. for another school a few cities away. ten years passed, and i only saw him once, in a movie theater. but i'll never forget the idea that he gave me. that songs can impact us so much that they shake us. render us unable to drive. hit a nerve so deep you can't even find the volume button to turn it up.
i was driving on monday, and this song came on the radio. and i watched as gas stations, traffic and shopping centers passed by in slow motion around me. i pulled into work and just sat to listen. i played it again at work yesterday and had to lean down and pretend to get something out of my bottom drawer to wipe away a tear.
because this song is so honest. and true. and heart breaking in that ordinary, soft way. it's not about war. or about killing or fighting or even death. but it reminded me of a man i used to know at work. who hasn't worked for two years. and for that, i wept.