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peak:

I rolled three strikes in a row to come from behind and win our first game tonight.


valley:

I have two tests Wednesday. This is so bad that it could be a low for today, tomorrow AND Wednesday.


noise:

The air conditioner.


sustenance:

Papa John's pizza.


thoughts:

My eyes feel heavy.
I need to make out a study guide for my tests.


365:

(Sept. 17, 2000)
Happy ending to a shaky weekend.


monday, september 17th

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Quote Du Jour:
"Fuck it, dude, let's go bowling..."
(John Goodman as Walter in "The Big Lebowski")

It was the Saturday night of Labor Day weekend. It had been raining most of the week prior and it looked like no exceptions would be made for that evening either. Yet, the afternoon turned into early evening and the time came for my university to play football and for me to photograph the event. Shortly before kickoff, the clouds parted and the rain stopped for a few hours. Of course, it didn't much matter... we lost the game.

With hope lost and about nine minutes remaining on the game clock, I snuck out of the stadium and headed towards my dorm. I packed a bag, threw some dirty clothes in my laundry basket and had every intention of making the 90 minute drive home. Jonathan had called and left a voice mail message on my cell phone during the game. He wanted me to come by his place and hang with him and Nate. I'm sure he had planned the visit to last a couple of hours. I was shooting for a couple of minutes.

When I got there I sort of got sucked in. At first it was, "have a seat." And then it was, "have a beer." And finally came, "let's watch this movie." The movie was The Big Lebowski. I made a few lame excuses as to why I needed to leave, but I stayed. I told myself that if I didn't enjoy the movie, I would have to leave. After all, I really needed to be driving home. That was the plan. I would have stuck to it, too... Except that I did enjoy the movie.

I won't go into details about it here. You can rent it if you want to know more. The important elements of the movie as they relate to this entry are (1) there are three main characters and (2) it has bowling in it. As the movie progressed, Nate, Jonathan and I sort of identified in one odd way or another with the three characters. (Nate as Steve Buscemi's Donny. Jonathan as Jeff Bridges' The Dude. And me as John Goodman's Walter.) By the time the movie ended, we were quoting it with proficiency and had decided that the three of must go bowling.


Our inaugural guys night out at the lanes was last Monday. We drank four rounds of beer. We acted like fools and called each other Donny or Walter or The Dude. We bowled three games. We each went home with a win under our belt. We decided to make it a Monday night ritual. We were all happy. It was a good night... but far from seeming overly significant at the time.

Tonight, we were back at the bowling alley. A pair of American flags hung from the ceiling tiles above the 44 lanes. Other American flags were hanging from poles mounted on support posts throughout the building. As much as I love my country and as much as I support patriotism, I'll be honest and say that I wish those flags hadn't been there. For me, at least, they didn't spark any additional pride in my homeland. They were simply a reminder at how long a week it's been.

They reminded me that the last time I was in that joint, everything seemed okay... And how that today, even when bowling with buddies, nothing seems okay. They reminded me how life is now very different. They reminded me that our world changed forever on Tuesday. Last week, we didn't need any flags. Last week, we weren't at war. Last week seems so long ago.

I haven't shed a single tear over Tuesday's attack. That doesn't surprise me because I'm somewhat choosy over what events I cry for. Mostly, I shed tears for departed loved ones or the occasional love gone bad. But also, I think its because I haven't let what happened last week get to me. I stayed too busy covering the story last week and slept too much during the weekend to be really bothered by it. Only now, when everyone else is trying to return to normal, am I giving the situation extensive thought. And I don't think we're ready for normal just yet. Just as last Monday looks far away when I look back, "normal" looks too far away when I look ahead.

On the way home from the bowling alley, I sat on the passenger's side in the back seat of Nate's Cherokee. The rear windows in his Jeep aren't the safe type and they roll all the way down. I took advantage of this feature and let the cool night air blow in and cover my face. Nate had Limp Bizket's "My Way" playing on his CD player, but the soundtrack didn't really matter. The moment would have been there for me regardless of the tunage. The trip home took only a few minutes, but I wouldn't have minded if it had taken days. For some reason, I felt relief during those few moments. The dark shadow that had been lurking over us all for the last week was lifted. I can't explain why, but I felt as though nothing really mattered at that point in time... not classes... certainly not tests... not terrorism... not the pitiful 83 game I had bowled earlier... nothing. It was a break from reality. But then, just as "normal life" had done nearly a week before... it ended.

copyright © 2001, Thomas Fletcher. all rights reserved.