Thursday, September 10, 2009

September 11

It seems like a lifetime ago. I was working in a Starbucks in Portland, Oregon when the planes hit the twin towers in New York. It was about 6am, I was slinging coffees to the early morning crowd, and guys were coming in with reports of horror and calamity. That was a new job for me, but technically my third run as a Starbucks corporate employee. Did I mention, after my history degree, that I spent my twenties wandering the earth? My return to Portland was something akin to a coming home, but I was still living in a month-to-month apartment. For some guys, commitment comes hard.

The morning wore on, and the stories kept getting worse and worse. Eventually, word came down from the TOP that all Starbucks stores were closing for the day. I was shocked and shaken. There was a girl working there, and I still remember her red hair and hipster glasses. She was off shift that day, but she was sitting home watching the television, and brought in these small pieces of paper. After terror gripped the nation, I glued mine into a little book I keep for important garbage that I don't want to forget. Here it is.

As much as I don't want to admit it, The 9/11 attacks changed my life forever. I was just reading a schmaltzy letter of remorse and remembrance over at Metrodad, and it made me realize that everyone has their own story about that day. I have mine, too. And I guess it's worth telling.

The story begins like this. I was dating 9 women at the time of the 9/11 attacks. NINE. I had a little apartment, and had returned to a town where I had plenty of friends. In theory, I was trying to "get back together" with an old girlfriend. But this was not even remotely true. I was drunk with the possibilities of girls in their twenties, post-college, and ready for action. I could hardly keep them separate in my mind. I had dates every night, and found it difficult to juggle them around. Now, you may be thinking that I am just THAT KIND OF GUY. I assure you, that is not remotely true. I am just a guy, like every other guy, that has been through LONG dry spells and hung on through TERRIBLE stormy relationships. Sometimes it just happens - suddenly, I was THE GUY.

I had more girls interested than I had days in the week! They were lovely girls, all of them. And we had very casual relationships. The were a mish-mash of old friends, new lust, and surprising distraction. Essentially, I discovered casual dating. And it was good. I give a special nod to those that stand out most in my mind - the White Porsche Girl, the Big Bam Boom, the Yoga Teacher, and the Nurse. It was a lovely fall.

There was a downside. When we woke up in my apartment in the morning, I wanted them gone. I didn't know how to say this exactly, but I always felt very strongly that they were somehow invading my space. But then they would go, and I would see them again some other time.

On that September 11, I made phone calls to the people in my life that mattered. I called my mother, and my father, and my brother. After I finished those calls, I thought to myself - "Is this all there is?" I always refer to the fall of 2001 as my "hot period" with the women. Honestly, I think I was just searching for something that I wasn't finding.

Finally, in November, it came to pass. I went on a date with a girl I had been keeping on the line for several weeks. She was a mutual friend, smarter than most, and had recently broken up with a boyfriend. We went out, she came on strong, and I was smitten. We went out to a club with friends, had far too much to drink, and I drove her home with me. She stayed the night, and in the morning a strange thing happened: I didn't want her to leave. I thought to myself - "how can I get her to stay?" Of course I offered her breakfast, and of course she refused, politely. Six months later we were engaged.

Here is the part that I can't get out of my mind: 8 years after the 9/11 attacks, there is a little boy sleeping downstairs with her eyes and my last name. The day that those towers fell, I told myself to GET SERIOUS about something in this life. There is mother and a one year old in my house that I am VERY serious about.

That is my story. It is not as sad as some. But it has a nice ending.

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