They say that children don't experience fear like an adult. They're wrong. This is story of my experience as a child on 9/11/01.
Please enjoy this piece. It is a true story from my childhood.
I've heard people say that children can't experience fear. That people aren't able to feel real fear until they reach a certain level of maturity. That the feeling of being scared is completely unknown to children. They're wrong.
When I was a child, my family took trips to the city each Sunday after church. We'd walk into the Sacramento Mall, prim and proper in our Sunday best, and people would smile and nod at us as we went about our business. They told my parents what beautiful children she had. I would smile up at the speaker like Mother had always taught me.
On these weekly trips, we would stop every time at the busy intersection near the center of town, the one by the old theatre building. I remember looking up at this building, with its old, dusty bricks and its dilapidated windows, and imagine myself dancing on its grand stage in front of an adoring audience.
My brother, not yet four years old, was focused on more down-to-earth topics when we passed the theatre. He was fascinated with the giant "Comedy and Tragedy" masks that were poised in a statuesque manner on the roof of the building.
"Mommy, tell me the "Comedy and Tragedy" story!" he would exclaim as we waited at the intersection.
My mother told the best stories to keep us occupied while we were on the road, as I was only six at the time, and my brother and I found ourselves quite often with a shortage of entertainment while on drives. The best part was that she told the stories the exact same each time, so we could follow along word-for-word and feel like we were listening to something tangible and real as we listened silently to my mother's stories.
"The "Comedy and Tragedy" story," my mother would begin as we slowly inched our way towards the front of the intersection. "A long time ago, a man had the idea that people could tell stories with their own bodies, speaking lines that-"
"-Lines that they knew by heart and had practiced many times before," I continued for her, breaking my gaze from the theatre to listen.
"That's right," Mother said. "This man said that people could cover a situation better if their audience was enthralled in the way that the story was being told. Thus, the performing arts were born."
"And now the "Comedy and Tragedy" part!" shouted my brother, bouncing in his seat.
"Can you tell me what comedy is, Joshua?" asked Mother.
"Comedy is happy!" he exclaimed.
"Very good," my mother praised. "And what is tragedy?"
His face went dark. "Tragedy is sad," he said, adopting a sullen tone. "It's when bad things happen."
My mother would pause for a second as we rolled through the intersection and continued on our way towards the mall. "That's right," she would say, quietly after a silent moment. "Tragedy is when bad things happen."