To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fifth Interlude

Hi, it's Daniel-of-2013 again.

Thirteen years ago last week, something momentous happened that, by its nature, I could not put in my narrative; for the last time, probably, in my lifetime, September 11th passed and nobody noticed.
I do not remember the day at all. Neither does anybody else I’ve spoken to from the school, from which I conclude that it was utterly ordinary, lost in the shuffle of other, equally ordinary days. The calendar tells me it was a Monday.

The next year, of course, September 11th was far from ordinary, and I remember parts of that morning, especially, with the clarity reserved for trauma. I didn’t know anyone who died that day, but there were people on campus who did. If this blog goes on long enough I’ll tell you how that day went, though it was probably the one day at the school where we were most like the rest of the country. We were shocked and frightened and confused just like everybody else. The only unusual thing, I think, was that because we did not have TV on campus we did not see the now iconic images until later. We got our news by radio or online. We couldn’t all be online at once or all huddled around the radio, so we met in the Dining Hall every few hours to share news. I remember, a day or so later, looking up at a blue sky bizarrely free of con trails and jets. Kit, beside me, looked up and said “it’s too bad this is what it takes for us to get a clear sky.”

And since that day “September 11th” has been the name, not of an annual date on the calendar so much as an event. It is this name, I think, that will give the observance staying power. The “day that will live in infamy,” the attack on Pearl Harbor, may not be wholly lost to history yet—it’s not out of living memory, obviously, and I learned about it in school—but I had to look it up online to get the date just now, December 7th. I’ve been through thirty-three December 7ths by now, and I’m not sure I’ve ever thought of Pearl Harbor on that day. I’m not even sure anyone has reminded me to think of it. But “Pearl Harbor” is the name of that event, encapsulating where it was into cultural memory, but not when. In seventy years, I expect that younger people will be inclined to forget how many planes were hijacked or by whom or why. I expect they’ll forget that one of them crashed in a field in Pennsylvania and that one of them hit the Pentagon. Maybe some will forget that the Twin Towers were in New York, as opposed to, say, Boston or Chicago. But every year September 11th will jump up at them, like a bump in the cultural road.

Like a bump in the road. It’s easy to forget that these things are cultural, not…laws of physics. I was reading over one of my entries from last year and I was going on about this, about how certain dates seem just inherently special, as though Christmas could be felt, deduced from the air like winter or morning, but actually in a country where they didn’t celebrate Christmas December 25th would pass the same as any other day.
And the reason I was thinking about that was that I seem to have landed in such a foreign country myself, the foreign country of my own birth—the mainstream United States of America, where they don’t celebrate the fall equinox, or most of the other holidays we had on campus. We had a bit of a party last year, a few of us, but I guess I was feeling really low, missing things. This year at least our holiday plans are a little better organized. We’re learning to take our home country with us as we make our way in the outer world.

In other news, this month's inaccuracy is that I made it seem as though finding out I was going hunting and actually going happened very quickly, apparently within a few days. I did that in order to maintain the rhythm of distinctly themed posts. Actually, the whole process took several weeks, meaning that the tree project must have ended somewhat earlier than I have it here, for the two did not overlap. Charlie and I talked about hunting several times before we actually went, and even practiced target shooting with me telling him when to shoot. I’d never thought of it before, but the word “shoot” must be onomatopoetic, reflecting the noise the arrow makes when it flies. Only, when Charlie used his big hunting bow the arrow took off like a bullet, making a shorter, louder sound more like “SHD!” He was a fantastically good shot.

I don't know exactly what the timing was--my diary is silent on the subject and if I talked about the hunting trip to anyone at the time no one remembers it, but I do remember thinking about hunting for a few weeks, sometimes looking forward to it excitedly and sometimes secretly dreading it. Teaching me how to act on the tree stand, how to approach an injured animal, and how to properly handle the gear we used took a while, too. On Charlie's suggestion, I even helped Rick butcher a road-killed deer he'd picked up, so I'd know a little bit about how to help Charlie with our kill. That preparation process was going on while other things I've talked about were happening, because life does not actually occur in episodes, more like in interwoven threads. Sometimes I'd forget about it for a while, sometimes I'd worry about it. And then the day came, and to Charlie's surprise as much as mine, we made the kill the first day we tried.

I still have the knife.

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