Sunday, September 11, 2011


I've asked a lot of people over the last week or two where they were on 9/11 & what they remembered. It is fascinating to hear person by person their reactions (i.e. "i thought it was a movie," or "i thought it was the end of the world") and the concerns for the country, for New York, and for those poor, poor innocent fellow citizens of ours. - If you shared your story with me this week thank you for sharing with me. I loved learning about you in that way. - If you didn't get to yet & would like to, I'd love to read about it. please share. if there's anything I've learned about pain like this it's that we really do feel something right when we talk about it, especially when other people are certain to understand what we mean.

The memories I have of that day are binding. Like every American who witnessed the horrors of that day I will never be able to forget what I saw. I wanted to just share my morning with you because I want to honor the day with what I can give it, my memory & my story. it's short, here it goes:
I was getting up to go to school (sophomore year) when my mom told me to go turn on the television and watch the news. She was in her bathroom toward the back of the house getting ready and listening to the radio. I knew something serious was happening. I flipped on the television and saw the images of the first building on fire. I'd never heard of The World Trade Centers, I certainly gathered that they were important and that this was terrible but I had no idea of what those buildings could hold, what they meant to America or what they symbolized to the terrorist. I watched as the second plane hit the second tower. I couldn't believe it. I ran to my mom & told her what happened, she was so serious & that is so not like my mom. I ran back to the television and watched until the 2nd tower that had been hit fell. I ran back again and told my mom. This time she was crying, I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what any of this meant, I just knew it was going to be terrible, beyond that even.
I was pretty young/naive being just a sophomore and I remember vividly months after the event saying to a pastor of mine in his office, "I just don't get 9/11, why are people still so upset about it? why is the news still harping on it? Move on." - I have regretted saying that from the minute after I said it. After that I began watching documentaries & learning about the tragedy of the day from perspectives I will never be able to comprehend. I learned through the footage, the audio of last voicemails, the incredible unity I felt amongst my countrymen of the honor & grief that day deserved in my heart. I regret that it took a while before I could grasp the meanings of that day but I have grasped them now.

It is a day every American that witnessed it can join me in saying that they will never forget. What comfort & unity there is in that knowledge; that WE will NEVER be able to forget that morning. We are united in that memory, linked by that national experience. 9/11 is a day that reminds me fiercely of my patriotism, my loyalty to the ideas of this country, to the ideas that were attacked on that day, to the ideas that caused that enemy to hate us. 
I can't wait to watch the ceremony tomorrow, I feel odd saying that I'm looking forward to something filled with so much pain but I find so much glory in remembering & participating with my nation as we remember together. I love my country. And I'll be watching tomorrow with a fixed gaze and bent heart just as I did on that Tuesday morning 10 years ago.

God bless you today as you remember & God bless this place, our home.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

fall semester

fall semester is the most lovely of the semesters. I feel relaxed as I walk onto a campus that is drifting away into the sleep of scarfy winter. I avoid the main thoroughfairs on campus & take a slow and quiet route to my classes. my stroll is peaceful, almost empty of other walkers save for two or three other souls. I feel deeply contented walking past the multi-storied brick buildings full of rooms where I have sat & learned for fifteen semesters. these places are sanctuaries in my mind, places I dearly love looking into & imagining my younger self inside learning some random bits of treasure that hopefully are still stored away in my mind. wandering on campus is nostalgic & magical. it is a place where I always feel that I belong more than anywhere else. somehow I feel as though I have earned this campus, these feelings, these treasured memories & thoughts. after all, fifteen semesters is a very long time to be in a relationship & somehow that's what I have with the campus, a complete & deep relationship.

I am enrolled this semester in "The Age of Milton," a class where we explore the contemporary authors of John Milton's time & end the class with a five week reading & discussion of his epic, Paradise Lost. it is going to be a phenomenal semester. the renaissance period is my favorite, after all, and I have my favorite professor teaching the class. but beyond what I will be learning from my professor & Milton, I will be learning something completely new that I really don't know how I will handle. I will be learning to say goodbye to this place, to my campus, to a place that brings me inexplicable comfort & joy. I fear leaving this place more than my final paper or comprehensive exam. I am so wrapped up in the rhythms of semesters, winter & summer breaks always broken by returning to class that I am at a real loss for knowing how the end of january will feel next year.

I will graduate in December with my Masters in English Literature & I feel caught between a sad disbelief & a sort of rushed sense of the end. "bitter-sweet" sums up my feelings almost exactly.
pray for me. this is going to be the hardest academic semester of my life, but beyond that I expect it to be one of the most difficult for my sentimental & romantic mind as it is forced to say good bye.

It seems most profound to me that I will read Paradise Lost this final semester. The title echoes in my heart as I will learn the meaning of my own paradise lost.