Where Were You: A Love Story

I woke up to CSPAN on the radio this morning, and they had people calling in telling the story of where they were during the attack on the World Trade Center. Now, I'm usually not a bandwagon person. I don't like the Live Strong bracelets, and I hate those magnet ribbons that people put on their cars to support all manners of causes. I really don't it when people make a huge deal about the flag, and here is why. At first I thought it was because I felt like it was a symbol hijacked by a political party that I don't like. That isn't it. I feel the same way about grandiose shows of patriotism that I do about dramatic demonstrations of religious fervor - if you mean it, you don't need to yell about it all the time. But after my experience in Denver, and the it being the anniversary of a pivotal event in my lifetime, I find that it is okay that we all share the flag. I just won't be waving it noisily. Instead, I'm doing what CSPAN told me to do. Andrew Sullivan's "The View from your Window" 9/11/08

One of the things that the announcer had said was that it is important to tell this story, because everyone has one. I guess this is true. I am too young to have a story for the murders of John or Bobby Kennedy, or Martin Luther King Jr.. What I have is a 9/11 story (also a death of Princess Diana story, but I don't think that really matches up).

I said this is a love story....

I was in Madison, living with two male roommates in a great apartment. I woke up, and was getting ready for class, when I saw Roommate sitting on the couch, staring at the television. "The World Trade Center was attacked" That he was even awake that early was not a normal occurrence, so I paid attention. I remember saying, no, they are probably just showing footage from the bombing a few years ago. Neither of us could turn away. I finally decided I had to go to class, but he was on his cell phone, dialing like crazy. Our friend J was in New York, and she worked either in the building, or next to it, but either way, that was her subway stop. Roommate couldn't get through to her. I don't think they were dating officially at the time, but he just kept calling and calling. Of course all of the cell towers were jammed that morning.

So I walked down to campus and it was eerily silent. The University of Wisconsin is huge, and always always crawling with people. It seemed so empty. My class was canceled - it hadn't occurred to me yet that this was a big enough deal that classes would be canceled - so I just kind of wandered around, hearing radio reports from the food vendors carts and wondering what was going on. I remember feeling really dazed.

Baby sister and I had just gotten back from a trip to NYC, in fact, we had stayed with J the week before this happened. Even now, I don't remember if Roommate and J were dating. I assumed they were, but I think it was pretty recent. They had been pals since I knew them.... At some point I ended up in Paul's Club, a bar with a tree in the middle of it watching the news. Then I went back to my apartment.

Roommate was still trying to get through to J. when I got back. I don't know when he actually did get to talk to her, it might have been the next day. I just remember how upset and worried he was. Roommate is a pretty gregarious guy, but on this day, he was quiet, and scared. Finally, J decided that she was going to leave NYC and she stayed with us for a while.

Now they are married and living in Milwaukee.

I'm sure that J and Roommate both have their own version of how this really occurred. This is just my vague memory of what happened seven years ago. It's really their love story, not mine. I just remember thinking much later, that out of something really scary and horrifying, something really great happened.

Here's to you, Roommate and J!