That first night of bowling was a pretty fun time. It launched a brief tradition that continued off and on through the rest of my college days. We made some good memories during our nights on the lanes... But we all know that what makes that first night stand out for me was what happened the following morning. Without warning, an innocent night at the bowling alley marked the end of a world that was as normal as I could have imagined for almost 24 years. The next day, life was reset is some way. A new chapter was started. Although we've all moved on with our lives in the last seven years, the world hasn't been completely the same to me ever since.
The following Monday night, the three of us returned to the lanes in an attempt to maintain normalcy in a world that was anything but. That trip back resounded in me the feeling of how much the world had changed in such a short about of time. It let me know that if life ever returned to normal, but would be some sort of parallel normalcy. Memories from September 10th became representative of a place and a time that we could never go back to again.
An excerpt from my September 17th Deadline Pressure entry:
"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."
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(Here's the link to the song if the embeded player doesn't load.)