Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ten Years

With the 10 year anniversary of September 11th approaching later this year, there will undoubtedly be numerous gatherings and programs commemorating that day's events and those who perished. For many, 2001 was a year of loss--of innocence, of security, of so many lives. On 9/11, I had been married exactly 10 days. As much as I already loved John, I can honestly say what I witnessed that day and in the days that followed had a profound impact on the way I viewed our marriage. As women holding pictures were interviewed, pleading for anyone who had information about their husbands to come forward, I said a silent prayer for them and thanked God that my husband was safe at home with me. While so many lives were ending, our life together as husband and wife was just beginning. In fact, 2001 was a year full of beginnings for me, a year of firsts and starts. Therefore, this year will be somewhat bittersweet for me. While our country and so many of its citizens mourn the loss of loved ones, I will also be reflecting on how I started on my new road ten years ago. And though it is my nature to feel a certain amount of guilt, I don't want to diminish the fact that I have been so blessed these past ten years.

I met my husband, John, in January 2001. After being shut out of Biology due to a scheduling conflict and an unsympathetic (read: jerk) professor, I went to Dr. McMahan and begged for mercy. He agreed to sign me into his Vertebrate Zoology class, warning me that it would be challenging for someone who had not completed ANY of the pre-requisites. There were about a dozen or so of us in the class. John was one of them. He sat in front of me, harassing and teasing me pretty much constantly (it would seem that John's flirting technique stopped developing in the 6th grade). We had lunch a couple of times and he helped me study for our final exam. I thought he was terribly cute and funny (and smart and kind and...).

We didn't go on our first date until February 2001. It was the standard dinner and a movie, but he tried to impress me by taking me to see "Finding Forrester" since it had to do with writing. A 2nd date followed and then a 3rd. It was at the end of this date that I told him point blank that we would get married someday. He didn't offer any argument (or go screaming from the car) so I assumed that he was in agreement. To be honest, even I thought I'd perhaps lost my mind. But I was as sure about this as I'd ever been about anything. Every part of me said, "This is it."

We got engaged in the spring of 2001, unofficially and then officially. We waited a little while before telling our parents, hoping they wouldn't think we were total nutjobs (though at this point, I'm pretty sure my parents had no idea what to expect from me). Then John surprised me with a ring and "sealed the deal" so to speak.

In May 2001, I graduated from college with a degree in English and a certification to teach grades 7-12. John had been accepted into pharmacy school in Memphis, so I started looking for a job. We spent the summer on the road quite a bit since he was living in Ripley and working in Memphis while I lived with my parents and worked in my hometown over an hour away.

In August 2001, John started school, as did I. I was assigned to a middle school but only spent a few weeks there (as a floater) before they told me that their attendance was down and I was going to be transferred since I was the newest. On Tuesday, August 28th (FOUR days before my wedding!) I walked into my new assignment: Craigmont High School. I was absolutely terrified yet totally excited.

As I mentioned earlier, John and I married on September 1, 2001. I could tell you all about my dress and the flowers and the ceremony but all I really need to say is this: I have never once regretted it

The months that followed are a bit of blur, full of lesson plans and holidays and all the things that come with starting a life together.

Looking back at 2001 from where I stand now, so many things that have shaped me began that year. While it brought challenges, that year also provided so many blessings.

It was the year I met and later married John, which changed my life forever and eventually led to my beautiful daughter.

It was the year of our first home together and the beginning of both our lives together and our (mostly) Independence from our parents.

It was the year of my new career as a teacher and the start of my four years at Craigmont where I would learn all the things they can never teach you in a college classroom. It was also at Craigmont where I met so many lifelong friends, including "my Jenny." (I just realized how much I sound like Forrest Gump when I say that).

It was the year my life truly began.

So while I will be paying my respects this year to those who lost their lives that September morning and reflecting on the loss of that day, I will also be celebrating the life that was gained that year.

I look forward to 2011 and to the next ten years.

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