Wednesday, September 10, 2003
quote du jour:
"We need time to dream, time to remember, and time to reach the infinite. Time to be." -- Gladys Taber
Where were you?

People used to complete that sentence with, "when JFK was shot." Now, an entire nation -- not just a generation -- has replaced the 35th president with, "on September 11th."

I guess that's the easy way to go. It was on Tuesday, the 11th day of September in 2001 that our world -- literally -- changed. But for some reason, I've always looked at things a bit differently. On 9-11, everyone was locked onto the same thing. Sure, the day itself and what it meant were different for each of us... The focus was not.

The day I often contemplate was September 10th, 2001. That was the day that life seemed completely normal for the very last time. Unfortunately, I don't even remember what that felt like. Total normalcy has become much like the voice of a long-dead loved one... So very hard to imagine. So much has happened in the last two years that September 10, 2001 seems tucked further away in history than memories decades older.

I went bowling on September 10, 2001. I had a really great time with some really good friends. I want to hold onto that moment for a long time. That's why I write about "9-10."

SEPTEMBER 10, 2003
Okay, so I placed an online personal ad.

I'm not quite sure why I did it... But I think I'll use boredom as my excuse. I can do the hermit thing well if necessary, but I really like social interaction. To be honest, such interaction has been lacking with anyone in Franklin outside of people I worked with.

I managed to get a few responses early on but, with the exception of one, little came from them. That exception, however, was quite friendly. We e-mailed a bit and then did a great deal of instant messaging. She kept suggesting that I call her and I kept having legitimate reasons not to. Finally, we took the friendship to the phone. Earlier today, she cancelled whatever plans she had for the night and we decided to meet.

I wish there was a nice way to say that I was disappointed.

The best way to describe her is to say that she is Alex's clone. When I say that, however, you must realize that as much as I've pined over Alex... the world may not be big enough for just the one. So, there's certainly no way one man could ever handle two.

She is like Alex in all of the superficial ways. They have the same build and the same penchant for shoes that match the outfit, perfect nails and good hair. Personals Girl didn't dominate the conversation like Alex would have, but she didn't seem interested in what I had to say, either. After most any story I told, she responded with a very empty, "too funny"... Even when the stories weren't.

Like Alex, she has a job with a major corporation and is old enough to be independent but still lives at home. And like an younger version of Alex, she seems to be steered by the influence of her friends. The example she gave was her sudden transition in musical tastes. After he friends pointed out that she was a "teenie-bopper" for enjoying the likes of N'Sync, she became interested in alternative music. That's a hell of a jump. Of course, I really shouldn't judge her on her musical taste. She'd never heard of Tennessee Ernie Ford... and that really dug her a hole that she couldn't climb out of.

(Okay, so I'm only joking about the hole. But it's Tennessee Ernie Ford! Everyone's heard of him, right? Sixteen Tons? He's on every Time-Life Greatest Hits of the 50s commercial ever made.)

We'd met for dinner at a local, old-school burger and sandwich joint. It's casual and unpretentious, but it's no McDonald's. I figured that it would give us the perfect place to talk. It did just that until the warning sign of the night arrived in the form of a girl's middle school volleyball team.

Six of the girls sat at the table right behind Personals Girl. Evidentally, they bumped her chair a few times and that didn't go over well. I moved our table out of the way, but that didn't really solve matters. Personals Girl honestly seemed to be getting upset about the volleyball girls and their mere presence in the restaurant. I don't know... But I'm thinking that life is a bit too short to be that uptight.

We spent two hours together and I think that might have been one hour too many. I'm just confused on how I enjoyed talking to her online and on the phone... But didn't enjoy meeting her nearly as much. I don't know... It's been a long day. Because of that, I guess it's possible that she was at a disadvantage to begin with.

What will come of Personals Girl? I have no idea. The old me says that I could milk her along long enough to get her into bed... But I'm really trying to get rid of that version of me. That version accomplished very little. Another part of me says that everyone deserves another chance. And yet a third part says that I'm already stretched thin as it is and that I shouldn't waste time when I don't feel an overwhelming connection.

Obviously, I have a few things to sort through.

SEPTEMBER 10, 2000 as told in the September 11th, 2000 entry:

At a slow point, I looked up and other than the nearly full moon, the only thing visible in the sky was a single star. I said, "if I wish on that star will you make it come true?" I meant it half jokingly... half serious. Of course, Alex replied with, "depends on what the wish is."

We joked about it some more... and talked some more. Finally, she decided that she was headed home. She grabbed her things from inside Jonathan's place and I walked her to her car. She said, "I think I know where you are headed with this." I probed her... "Where am I headed? I want to know," I said.

She told me, "It's your wish, what do you want?" I wouldn't say. I didn't really know. After all, it started half jokingly.

She sort of seemed a little upset that I wouldn't come out and tell her... so I said something along the lines of, "tell me where you think I'm headed and if you are right, I'll tell you and if you are wrong, I'll let you know what I was thinking about."

She said, "you want a kiss."

I replied, "that's not a bad idea."

And we kissed.

It wasn't a peck. It wasn't tonsil hockey. It was something in between. But telling anymore would not be gentlemanly of me... except, of course, to say that it was nice. As we moved away from each other, she said, "but that didn't mean anything."

SEPTEMBER 10, 2001 as told in the September 17th, 2001 entry:

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.

SEPTEMBER 10, 2002 as told in the September 10th, 2002 entry:

I'm afraid I have no good 9-10-02 stories. I spent most of the day busy running errands around the metro area. Most of those errands were in direct relation to events planned for tomorrow. I needed a tie, some collar brass and a pair of shoes for my dress uniform. We don't have headgear, so I stopped by the barber shop and got a haircut I didn't absolutely need just to make sure I looked sharp.

Today has been weird for me. As I've gone about my business, the 11th has been in the back of my mind. Every so often, it popped up to the front. I honestly don't think tomorrow will bring any surprises, but nothing seems for certain anymore... And more so than the national or international scene, I'm curious as to how I'll feel tomorrow.

Last year on the 11th, I was a journalist. I was busy that day covering the story as it related to Oakdale and our campus. Sure, I was a firefighter and my thoughts on that day were with my brothers in NYC, but I was still a paid-per-call guy. I'm on the job for real now. And it all means a little bit more to me now.

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