the week was hard, so very hard. i mean, it's not like everyone doesn't have their own where were you when the towers fell? story. i won't get into mine here. but the week of september 11 was one of those times when every single moment is burned into my memory in a hazy, oversaturated palette. i was in the tiny mountain town of my boyfriend's alma mater the day they fell, back across the commonwealth a day later, and back again that weekend to mourn the fallen.
what a crazy week. the first thing that greeted me when i walked into the fraternity house that friday was the dozen white roses in a crystal vase, ringed with a wide black ribbon, sent from nationals to commemorate our fallen friend. it didn't get much easier. we all drank together like it was the last night of prohibition, but the tone was off. we drank out of confusion, anger, sadness, rage and a desperate need to reset things. after all, it was normal, okay again, if we drank on a friday night. that was what life was before everything went wrong.
i told the story of the football game before. that night, we went back to the house. there was more loud, confused drunkenness downstairs. hell, i blame no one. we were kids, and what the hell did we know about grieving? most of us still had most of our grandparents living. so the boyfriend and i went upstairs to bed, just to steal a moment to ourselves. we were twenty-two (him) and twenty (me). we were seniors. we were going to graduate into a world that just got turned onto its head. every single thing we thought we knew had been tilted in some way or another. the only thing we had to cling to was each other. so we talked about this. we held onto each other, and as we did, he said to me, will you marry me?
really? yes. will you marry me?
we kept it to ourselves that night, calling our families and friends in the morning. we spread the news, one person at a time, all through the day. and it was a nerve tonic for everyone we spoke with. one of our friends threw his arms around me and yelled, thank god! good news! so how could we ever think we were doing anything but the right thing? and that little, tiny voice, back in the dusty corner of my head, whispering are you sure? it was nothing. we made the pledge, and in that moment, the reeling chaos of the world fell away. we were strong, we were certain, and that made it okay.