Friday, September 11, 2009

"Things used to be very different"

Once again, I wasn't going to go to the September 11th memorial. Once again, I got pulled into it. Once again, I'm glad it was an icky gray blustery day, and not a beautiful blue-sky day like in 2001. The weather seemed right, and so did the sea of black umbrellas. L'Ailee met up with me, and my work husband B.'s wife met up with him. Then L'Ailee's two best friends in the world, her brothers from other mothers, could come as well. We tried to text very discreetly, sound turned off on our cellies, so we could all find each other. TTG we managed to do so quickly, but I don't think we were the only ones. The six of us stayed very close once we got together.

Once again, we left early, too. We stayed longer than we had in the past, but there was only so much any of us could take. We left as soon as B.'s wife heard the names of the two friends she lost on 9/11. We decided to go have brunch and talk.

There was a lot to talk about: "Some designers actually put on fashion shows this morning. Of course I had to miss them, even though there are some good ones." This from L'Ailee. And once we'd turned the sound back up on our cell phones, we were greeted with texts about the Coast Guard's extremely, to say the least, ill-advised training exercise on the Potomac. "OhmyGawds, can you believe they'd even consider such a thing today? The fashion shows seem like a great idea now, babydoll." That was me, the only Pagan at the table. Mostly, of course, we talked about what we were doing that morning and the friends that four of us lost.

I have shared this story before. I want to keep it short now. I was in Orlando at the time, frantically calling what was my girlfriend at the time on her cell and landline as she frantically looked for friends and tried donating blood. (She's never allowed to, wasn't even allowed on 9/11, because she's just under their height and weight minimums. Since we have the same blood type, I always tell her I donate for both of us.) I couldn't reach her until past *midnight*, and then I screamed at her for making me worry! When we could all fly again, I was on the next flight to NYC even though I couldn't exactly afford it. My first night there was the first time she'd slept a decent amount or eaten a full meal since that morning.

B. was in a sorta-big city in Alabama at the time. His cute Dominican co-worker, who'd been transferred from New York City and was experiencing , to say the least, horrible homesickness and a bad case of culture shock, was trying to keep it together at work. She was allowed to make a ton of personal calls on the company phone, and couldn't quite find everybody. He comforted her as she kept trying to reach people she'd left behind. A few months later, he'd find another job, and she'd realize she missed that "hick who kept bothering her," and they'd began to date.

So when we think of 9/11, we think of a really horrible day for the women we love. They, of course, think of their lost friends. The friend L'Ailee lost was also a good friend to A. and his husband. At the time, A. was a new father, married to a woman who outearned him by a *lot*. They in fact married because of the baby. (Yes, I know, that's the plot to "Knocked Up", only I'll admit that A. is way more attractive and together than Seth Rogan's character.) They found each other compelling, but most of those around them couldn't figure out why they'd even started dating in the first place. Eventually she would kick him out, and he would move in with his other best friend, and they would fall in love even though A. only barely acknowledged his bisexual feelings and had never had a same-sex experience in his life.

We discussed all that had changed since that morning, and, amazingly, made each other laugh out loud in places:

"[Our friend] knew you two would have to move in with each other," A.'s husband told me and L'Ailee.
"He would not have expected you two to move in together, though!" L'Ailee replied.
"Oh, he would have expected [my ex-wife] to throw me out. I think he had a betting pool," A. said.
"No, I did. And I won," L'Ailee joked. We all laughed at that. Most of us love gambling in small amounts, and when we can't afford that, we "pride-bet."
"No, he would not have expected us," A's husband reflected. "He was tolerant, but he would have been very surprised to see [A.] go in my direction. [Our friend] probably would have wondered if he was finished with all of the women he wanted!"
"I can't even see you two with anyone else," B.'s wife mused. "I know how you love your daughter, but you two seem fated."
"Things used to be very different," L'Ailee said.
"That's the song of the day," B. said. We all nodded.
"[Our friend] might have wondered if gayness was contagious and he was next," A. told us.
"You know," B. deadpanned, "I think it really is. Just yesterday, I found myself thinking the UPS guy had a pretty good body."
"Our UPS guys at work?" I asked. "Hell, honey, that doesn't mean you're gay or bi, that just means you're sighted!"
"Well, I know you like them."
"We have, like, the best-looking UPS delivery people on the face of the planet," I explained to those who don't work with us.
"Really?" L'Ailee's eyes and lips narrowed, but she couldn't sustain it very long before she laughed.
"We have to come by your office all of the time," A's husband remarked.
"Why, when you have me at home?"
"I'm coming by for lunch next week," B's wife told him.
B. shook his head. "You know, back home I would never have told a joke like that. I think my daddy would stroke out if he heard it!"
"Aren't you glad you're here now?" I asked with a smile.
We all pondered. We all came from somewhere else...from the Dominican Republic as a baby, from various parts of Russia as teens, from the South as adults. B. finally answered, "Yeah, I really am glad I'm here. Even today."
A. lifted his glass. "To all of us being here, even today." We toasted to that.

We reluctantly said our goodbyes for the afternoon, lingering over hugs. Awkward side hugs between B. and the other guys, but hugs anyway. I wanted to say, "We'll see each other again, we will," but I'm too superstitious to dare. Too much like famous last words for my taste. Besides, that's the most horrible part of that morning. Lots of people knew for sure they'd get to see each other again, and...didn't.

Links, links:

Remember the runner who endured speculation and medical testing regarding her gender? Poor Caster Semenya withdrew from a race this weekend. The really sick sad part is that if it's true about her being intersexed, she almost certainly won't be allowed to run again unless, as the article put it, her "condition is treated." An intersexed person can't compete in a sport they love otherwise, no matter how good they are.

Mean police officers in Washington State closed down an enterprising young man's small business. Guys, cross your legs before you click!

The ACLU offers, ironically enough, a Facebook quiz that demonstrates how invasive most Facebook quizzes are to your privacy.

Finally, the Pittsburgh Penguins took the Stanley Cup to the White House last night. They cleaned up nicely. I think hockey players are more used to suits than NASCAR drivers, though fireproof suits are far more flattering than hockey uniforms. Our American boys did us proud--Bill Guerin defined "swagger," even standing in the group shot, and Brooks Orpik almost completely turned off the crazy eyes. Oh, he still looked intense, but, you know, nowhere *near* as homicidal as usual.

The Associated Press video is short and fun; it features Evgeni Malkin taking pictures on his cell while he is on stage and President Obama joking about Sidney Crosby's size. (He's average-size and wouldn't stand out on a college campus, but that's kinda small in hockey terms.) Don't worry, you probably won't become a mind-controlled Obama zombie if you watch this!

1 comment:

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

You always have the most interesting stories, and I can kind of imagine sitting there with all of you listening to you talk.