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Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Decade

Ten years ago I was an eighteen-year-old freshman in college, ready to begin my second week of classes. I was away from home for the first time, but after two weeks on campus I had started to make friends and enjoy my classes, and was beginning to shed the paralyzing fear homesickness that had kept me locked alone in my room for most of orientation.

I had just met my now-husband at a party in Lindsey Reed's room and had begun what I knew would be a wonderful friendship, but had no idea that it would eventually result in a walk down the aisle at 28.

I was loving getting to know these beautiful women and dorm-mates, many of whom are still my close friends and several of whom were at my wedding. Lindsey (far right) officiated our ceremony, and Kristin is missing from this shot only because she was taking the photo.

On Tuesday, September 11 2001, I got up at 8am to shower before my 9:30 music theory quiz. Before class I had a bowl of cereal and went over my notes, but did not turn on the radio or check the news before making my way across campus to Peter Hamlin's Theory I class where I sat down next to Janet Toews (now Janet Cowan, with a baby on the way).

Professor Hamlin walked into the room, wearing a bow tie and looking (more) nervous and distracted (than normal). "Well, I know it might be difficult to focus with everything that's going on but we're still going to take the quiz." I had no idea what was 'going on' so I asked Janet, who replied that she wasn't totally sure but she'd heard that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon.

After that class, I ran back to the dorm to find out what had really just happened. My dad was traveling in Philedalphia for work at the time and I was worried about him. I remember watching the news for at least 45 minutes in the room of some guys I had never met before - I think it was the first room in 1 South so it must have been Kevin and Nick's room. I remember spending an hour on the phone with my mom - my dad was fine, just stuck in Philly - feeling scared and sick to my stomach.

Surrounded by the idyllic safety of our world on a hill in Northfield, Minnesota, it was difficult to wrap our heads around the scope of what had just happened 1,000 miles away. I traveled to New York with my dad that summer, and the city I experienced in July 2002 was quiet and introverted, a very different place from the one I had visited just one year before. It was evident that this was a city in mourning.

I realize that there is no way to make up for the loss and tragedy we experienced on that day - we lost so many brave and wonderful people, and today we should remember those people and celebrate their lives. But I also remember that for a brief moment, between the Bush-Gore election drama and going to war in March of 2003, it felt like our country was united. I remember how much we had to lose to realize that we are all in this together, and how quickly and easily we have forgotten.

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