i was 19. college, sophomore year just started, best roommate situation i've ever had (before eric ;), a very questionable long distance boyfriend who would soon become my fiance... acting class, survey of civ, lifetime wellness... and who knows what else.
my long distance boyfriend - the future ex-husband - was in dallas working that semester... we IM'd about the attack. he didn't call me, i didn't call him. funny to think about now in the context of a long past relationship... i see so many of those things as an indicator of how wonky our relationship was. over this past weekend i've heard so many people recall how they raced to find their spouse, their children, their parents... to hold them and reassure themselves. i was on the cusp of being engaged to this guy and all he said, over the internet, was: well, the sh*** has hit the fan now.
which is probably why when i think of what i was doing on 9/11 i think of the class i was in when it happened, the chapel service that morning and singing "God Moved In a Mysterious Way" instead.
in some ways, i think my life started to explode that fall too.
homecoming came, and i was suddenly engaged and planning a wedding for spring break of the following year... and struggling with mixed emotions that i never expected when i imagined myself finding "mr. right". he was in texas, because he was on academic suspension from our school, and i was alone in tennessee. i don't think i realized it then, in fact i know i didn't until i returned to the US from Italy in 2005, but i had begun to disconnect.
things weren't what i had thought they'd be, and i was too naive to see why and too scared to get out. and so as the president began to advise us to continue living our lives as usual and to spend spend spend, i began to believe that where i was and how i was being treated was normal. as we buried our shock and horror at what had happened to us as a nation, i buried my normal healthy reactions (the ones he told me were wrong) in shopping for stuff i didn't need with money we didn't have. i quit school. i took prozac. i thought there was something really wrong with me.
my family held on as much as they could... the line stretched from kansas to georgia, my grandmother died in June that year... the line stretched from kansas to Italy, i nearly died in June of that year.
alone in military housing, each apartment a mirror of the other, i took long bubble baths and ignored the laundry and the garbage and the yelling when he got home... i took the dog for walks, talked to my mother every day long distance, and finally tried to talk to my him about how awful everything was. another explosion. he yelled the word "divorce" in a string of irate sentences and left to God knows where, the door slam echoing on the tile. i went upstairs, opened the bottle of perkaset and took it all. there was nowhere for me to go, and (i thought) no one to help me.
10 minutes later, i called the only friend i could think of and she raced me to the hospital. i don't even feel anything when i think about my time in there... i have a memory of an Italian nurse squeezing my hand and speaking soothingly as they pumped my stomach. my heart is only beginning to ache now.
that was June 2004. i was completely disconnected. the hands of strangers brought me back, the actions of our military's employees got me home (i can never praise the chaplaincy and services on that base enough), and i began to wake up.
it took the US until the recession in the winter of 2008 to wake up... by then i was sitting in my car listening to NPR and not wanting to walk across the frozen parking lot to work. i'd been divorced (after a year of working desperately to fix things) since April of 2006... an engagement ring sparkled on my hand again, and i was longing to be home with the man who loved me, listened to me, understood me and who was loved and praised by all my loved ones.
since then, i've been repairing the last walls that were broken. i'm safe, i'm surrounded by those who love me and i even love myself (and that one took a while!), and i have a connection to those who hurt that the 19 year old who wasn't even sure the first reports of the 9/11 were real would have ever had.
lately, these themes of connection>disconnection|reconnection< have been rolling around in my heart, touching on my spirituality, on my choices as a new parent, on our choices as a society (global and national) and my choices as a human being... our hearts stopped when we saw how vulnerable we were and how quickly the world could go sideways, what else could we do but hunker down and bury the hurt with things and anger toward those who hurt us? there are many who have shared much more powerful insight on the impact of 9/11 and what it has done to us as Americans, and as global citizens, for me i have recognized in myself this touchstone... this stone of remembrance that has helped me begin to honor the journey i've made.
"Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I've come. And I hope by Thy good measure, safely to arrive at home."
thank you for remembering with me, thank you for connecting.