Roaming the campus of the University of Illinois with some friends from high school, walking home from our friend’s dorm room at Bromley Hall. It is just after midnight and I have class tomorrow at 10am, but I don’t care. We are reveling in my newfound freedom and independence. I am love with the idea that so many potential best friends my age were within mere inches of me, and loving even more the fact that on any given weekday night I can walk over and hang out till the early hours, huddled in their dorm room. An apartment in the building across the street is clotted with undergrads; so crowded, in fact, they seem to be practically hanging off the balcony, plastic cups dangling from their fingers. “Look,” my friend points with a mixture of glee and admiration for the carefree party animals that we, too, would so obviously soon become. “They’re partying because it’s TUESDAY!”
The next morning I wake up for my English class. My roommate left the radio on, and I hear something about a plane crashing into the WTC. I am so removed from the cosmopolitan world of downtown Manhattan, cloistered in my big Midwestern state school in the middle of nowhere, that I shrug it off and go on off to class. I have never been to New York; I don’t know anyone who lives there; and the most I know about it is gleaned from repeatedly watching episodes of Sex and the City on HBO. My mind is on catching the 21 bus to the quad and discussing William Blake.
But in the English building, the atrium is strangely empty, a few stray students drifting hollowly through the echoing halls like ghosts. In my class, only 3 people show up.
It is like a horror movie.
I spend the rest of the day, and that week, huddled in friends’ dorm rooms, but with shining, awed eyes glued in horror to CNN.