I quickly changed and headed towards the community room. The professional staff let us know that training would be postponed. Counseling services would be available for folks who needed it. Kids who I didn't really know yet were consoling each other. I remember the shock and numbness. I remember out of all the folks in RA training with me, there was one kid I was already friends with through Kaba. He was most panicked of all because he couldn't get a good of his uncle and he worked in one of the towers.
With training cancelled that day, I needed to get away. I got in my car and drove. I didn't know where I was going but I just let my hands steer the wheel. I somehow ended up at Corona Del Mar. I made my way to a park bench that overlooked the ocean and journaled my feelings, my grief, my helplessness. There were moms walking with their children. I kept thinking how could they be walking around like nothing is wrong?!?! But the moms looked weary. The children looked oblivious. And I realized that although our world was devasted by the horrific events, our lives still needed to continue on. I stared out into the ocean and wished it was all a misunderstanding, wished it was all a bad dream.
I went back to my dorm to try and continue with my hall prep, but my heart wasn't in it. I called up my old roommates and we decided to kickback for an early birthday celebration. We did shots of some kind of liquor. We hung out. We had fun. At least as much fun as we could despite the earlier events of the day.
When I got back to my hall hours after my birthday passed at midnight, I found out I missed a birthday party planned for me by my fellow RAs. They sang me happy birthday even though I wasn't there. They saved the cake until I got back to Mesa. We all shared cake and a few more shots. It was an odd way to celebrate my 21st birthday, but it will always be tied to that one moment in history.