Where were you when...

I had been up late the night before. Sept. 10, to be exact. In fact, we probably didn't go to bed until Sept. 11. We being my roommate, Katie, and I. We were at a Lifehouse concert. We'd just moved in to our house near campus, and this was our first real adventure as roommates, very soon to become closest friends.

We were up late chatting and swooning over Jason Wade, talking about our classes and this "new" city we were thrown into. COLLEGE WAS SO EXCITING.


I dragged my tired ass out of bed the next morning for my 8 a.m. class. It was a writing class, and I loved it. That day we had our desks in a circle and we were reading each others short stories. Mine was about a bunch of kids in college. Clever.

On my way back home, campus felt empty. Those who were out and about seemed rushed, upset. I heard a girl on the phone. She was crying, asking a question about her dad. I heard "New York."

I obviously did not get the memo.

Until I walked into the student union and found everyone. They were hoarded around televisions. Some sort of "breaking news."

I wandered over, still unsure of what the hell was going on. All I saw on the television was a building, a very tall one, on fire. Two of them, actually.

The World Trade Center, they said.

World Trade Center? I didn't even know what that was. Seems foolish now, to think there was a time in my life when I had no idea what the World Trade Center was.

Planes hit them, people were saying.

Planes? Are you serious? How do you hit a building?

And then I heard "terrorism."

Such a foreign word that was - terrorism. Never heard it much back then. Now it's part of our every day vernacular. Terrorism. World Trade Center. September 11. Those words meant nothing to me. Before.

In those early hours, after I went home and glued myself to the news - the towers had collapsed by then - I was still piecing together in my mind what it all meant.

Who would do that? Why? It's New York, though, right? So we're safe here, in Milwaukee? It doesn't really affect us. At all.

I wish I could still be that naive.

It's been seven years, and I now know more about the World Trade Center and terrorism and September 11 than I probably ever wanted to. I'm changed. All of those words are so normal now.

I was on my way to the library this morning and saw a flag at half-staff. For about 11 seconds, I questioned why that was so. What happened, I asked myself. Who died?

And then I remembered the date.