The day the world got smaller
The enduring legacy of that September morning.
6:45am, a not-so-nutritious breakfast of cookies with chocolate chips and a banana was all I could grab, I was running late. I headed straight to my beloved pool for my morning training. There, my typical day by day it was about to start. I knew that according to my schedule, it was going to be a semi-tough day. 400mts warm up, 2 blocks of 200mts kick only (without fins), 3 blocks of 500mts + 200mts to relax and shake the stress on your muscles after that awful amount of meters between yells and our trainer’s orders. That’s how the day the world got smaller started to me.
After training, I stepped by my uncle’s business on my way to my dad’s. His shoe factory was working at its regular pace. Noise coming from the air-compressors, the thumping muted sound of the giant press cutting leather into straps in endless repetition. Several workers at their respective sewing machines, making holes in the well-perfumed surfaced fabric. Shoes are assembled like a puzzle, all the pieces fit together in a graceful way. A monotonous work made with care and diligence. After greeting my cousins at the front desk, I needed to say hi to my uncle. To find him, you need to go straight to the heart of the factory. A quick walk through the assembly line took me to my destination, the plastic-melting machine. You know you’re getting near by the thick smell of heated rubber (the smell is so strong that you can feel it right at the gate). In charge of the machine, there was my Uncle, as usual taking care of business the only way he knew, getting his hands dirty. He greeted me and continued with his meticulous work. Soles need to be molded - leather needs to be cut - pieces need to be sewed - insoles need to be glued - shoes need to be packed - the truck needs to be loaded. It’s the same old story over and over again.
I went straight to my cousins to talk about the same old things (what you did on the weekend/girls/cars, etc.). While in the middle of our usual chat, my Uncle comes running to the counter with his cellphone still in his ear “Turn-on the TV, something’s happening, DO IT.” We saw the image of a massive building with smoke on top. A few minutes later, a second plane made the final blow to this modern-day wonder. We watched in total despair how people jumped from the building in an attempt to mitigate their suffering. When the towers collapsed, for some instances, nobody dared to break the silence. We all watched quietly how tons of concrete and steel crushed the life and hopes of not only the ones inside, but of the whole world watching in awe. With watery eyes, my uncle said in Italian, “This looks like the beginning of another war kids, what a sad day.” To our easily- impressed minds, this image left an indelible scar that could be covered, but never forgotten.
That day changed the way we travel, do business, and migrate. This day made us realize how easily we can be affected by something happening far beyond our borders. It doesn’t matter if we are thousands of miles away from ground zero, we still suffer the consequences of that infamous act. Like pebbles thrown for fun, its ripples can reach distant shores. Humankind is intertwined, distance is not enough to keep you safe. Gone are the days of mindless mobilization with careless custom check-outs. I remember that infamous September morning as the day my world got smaller.