Monday, September 11, 2006

Because Even I Am Not Such a Cold, Heartless B*tch As to Let Today Pass Without Saying Something

I'm conflicted about what to say today. In some ways it's just another day. In others, it's one of the most pivotal, living-history-as-it-
happens days of my life, right up there with the Challenger explosion and the 2000 election and the selection of a new Pope. The kind of crazy-strange-tragedy that I hope happens only once in a lifetime, but I'm beginning to think that's too much to ask for.

Five years ago, September 10 was just another day in Bloomington, Indiana, as I sat in front of the TV, Monday Night Football on in the background, doing my reading for the week. Three weeks into my third semester in grad school and my life consisted of (1) looking for a job, (2) getting decent grades, and (3) looking for a job.

And on that night, September 11 looked to be shaping up as just another day, too. I got up that morning, went to the gym and ran on a treadmill, which puts you facing the windows, overlooking campus, your back to the television. I showered, dressed, and left the locker room. Just another day.

The TV was on in the lobby -- the Today Show. I almost didn't stop, as I didn't really care what those fluffy morning TV shows had to say. I was already a news snob back then and figured if the Washington Post didn't tell me about it, I didn't need to know. The sheer number of people staring at the television made me pause, and then I saw the footage we all saw.

Suddenly, it was no longer just another day.

I spent the better part of the day in front of the TV, because it seemed like the thing to do. Because somehow if I saw enough and heard enough and knew enough, I'd be able to make sense of it all. Five years later, I'm still waiting for that particular epiphany.

September 12 dawned like the one before it, with my 6 a.m. alarm blaring. I sat up in bed thinking, hoping, praying that I had imagined the preceding day, that it was some kind of freakishly-detailed dream. I switched the alarm off and the radio on and heard Bob Edwards tell me that it was, in fact, 100% real.

And yet, that Wednesday was just another day. Because it had to be. There was work to be done and class to conduct and, amazingly, the earth didn't stop spinning on its axis simply because we had been attacked, here, in the United States, by foreign enemies for the first time in more than half a century.

It surprised me how quickly things were "normal," though the old "normal" and the new "normal" could never be mistaken for each other. It seemed cold, jaded, wrong somehow, for life to carry on. But it had to. It always has; it always will. It's not a sign of cynicism at all; it's a show of strength and resilience.

And last night, as I sat in Bloomington, Indiana, football on in the background as I did some reading to prep for the week, I was confronted with the fact that I was getting on a plane bound for DC on September 11.

Sure, it's ironic. And maybe a bit symbolic. Take that, terrorists! I'm flying to our nation's capital on the anniversary of September 11 and nobody's going to stop me! (Except maybe the TSA guy who thought the business card holder in my purse looked suspicious/dangerous and demanded a bag check.) But it was also completely unintentional, and I think that's a good thing – after all, it's just another day.

Lest you get the wrong idea, yes, today's remembrances are good. We should remember and commemorate the tragedy visited upon so many lives. But to let one act alter what we would normally do? To allow it to bring everyday life to a grinding halt? That simply gives it more power.

Today, I'm winning the War on Terror, and I'm doing so by getting on a plane and going to work and having a classic alcohol-infused dinner with the other two members of our Blonde Trio. There is joy embedded in the mundane. There is verve hidden in the routine. I am thankful for that, and celebrate it by living -- really living -- today like just another day.


At Tue Sep 12, 02:07:00 AM PDT, Blogger Mindy said...

Well said!!


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