the day it all went down.

September 11, 2001 is a day that none of us will forget. Everyone has their stories of where they were, when they heard, how they felt. I am no different. Except that I made a huge mistake that day.

It was a normal Thursday morning. Dad was already gone (either on a trip or to work. I can’t remember.), mom was getting ready in her bathroom upstairs, Janine was researching something on the computer in Dad’s office on the first floor, and I was exercising my culinary abilities through crafting myself breakfast in the kitchen. The morning was going to be spent at church – Mom at Bible study and Janine and me on kid care duty.

We had eaten tacos for dinner the night before, and there is something amazing I have always loved about hard shell tacos, freshly warmed to the point where they ever so subtly sizzle when you raise them to your ear. That is pure delight.
Anyways. So…I decided to warm up a taco shell…because, in my 12-year-old brain, that was a logical breakfast. My 12-year-old brain was a little less patient than my current brain – so in hopes of getting the taco shell warmed up quicker, I utilized the almighty toaster oven – both on the toast setting and on oven timer…because the more settings I had engaged the faster it would heat, right?

Then I turned on the radio. I heard things about planes, towers, explosions. I didn’t know what the twin towers were, but I knew they were on fire. I had to get a visual – so I went down to the basement where our only TV was and I turned on the news. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had to tell mom. I ran upstairs to mom’s room and tried to tell her about planes crashing into towers, fire, and all the like. In her small airplane flight instructor mind, she was thinking of a Cessna 172 crashing into a radio tower. I realized I wasn’t getting my message across well, so I raced back to the basement to get more information. While down there, I realized nature was calling. So I used the restroom in the basement. As I was walking out, The smoke alarm in the house started going off. Mom was yelling at Janine, trying to figure out what was going on. Janine went to the kitchen, only to find smoke billowing out of the toaster oven. Mom raced downstairs and started delegating emergency procedure tasks. I had to go get box fans from downstairs. Mom ushered the smoldering toaster oven to the back patio. Janine opened windows. All the while, I was trying to tell mom about the catastrophic insanity happening on TV…and time kept ticking towards the time we had to leave by in order to not be late. Miraculously, we ended up in the car only a few minutes behind schedule. Mom called the church on the way and told them about the taco shell incident. The lady’s response to the fire/smoke, “Oh no – not you too…”

Fast forward to getting to church…

Mom finally realized what was happening. Images of the towers were everywhere. Because we were watching small children, Janine turned the TV in our kid care room off. By the time we walked out after Bible study, the towers had fallen. The nation was in shock. We finally went home – to the smell of lingering smoke – which somehow made the whole day feel more real.

And that’s my “I almost burned the house down on 9/11” story.  Moral of the story: Don’t leave a taco shell in the toaster oven unattended. My bad.

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