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Literary Thu Aug 18 2011

9/11 Stories at Webster's Wine Bar & Uncommon Ground

Everybody has a 9/11 story. That morning as I rode the Red Line to work, I wrote in my journal about the countdown to my impending wedding scheduled for that Saturday. "Just four more days," I wrote in anticipation, "and I'll be married." When I got to work my colleagues were clustered around the television in the reception area, eyes glued to the now iconic image of the World Trade Center up in smoke. I knew that very instant that my wedding would, at best, have to be postponed. I called my mother in tears before the first tower fell, sobbing openly within the flimsy confines of my cubicle and not giving a damn who heard me. Work closed early, and I got a ride home in the backseat of a colleague's car. Traffic was heavy; everyone was leaving work. I cried the whole way home. I sat on my couch and didn't move for hours, eyes glued to the television, absorbing the horrors of what was happening.

Having grown up in Brooklyn, I felt an overwhelming urge to take every last penny that my fiancé and I had saved for our honeymoon and send it to the Red Cross, keeping just enough to get on the next Greyhound bus bound for New York to volunteer to do whatever I could. My fiancé convinced me not to send all of our money, and the talking heads on TV convinced me that unless I had a specific service that I could offer -- emergency psychiatry, for instance -- that I'd just be a burden arriving in New York at that particular moment. In the end I gave $300 to the Red Cross, and stayed in Chicago, and cried. I cried at home, I cried openly in the streets, I cried in the shower. On September 15, 2001, which should have been my wedding day, I woke to a gorgeous blue sky, and a perfect, sunny day. My fiancé went to work; and I hung out at the shop with him. Someone asked when we were getting married, "it was supposed to be today," I said.

The importance of our wedding, which, up until that moment, had been higher than almost anything else I could think of, plummeted in the face of what was happening around us. We were in no mood to celebrate. I didn't want the only topic of conversation at our wedding to be the attacks, and I didn't want to have to remember, on every single wedding anniversary for the rest of my life, what else had happened that week.

Our caterer refunded our money in full; we weren't their only booking that had cancelled that week. I love pie more than almost anything else in the world, and we'd planned to have scads of wedding pie instead of cake. My sister had an apple pie delivered to me at work the day after we postponed with a note that read, "For a wonderful sister, and a beautiful bride." I cried again, and ate the whole thing in one sitting.

In a few weeks, it will be 10 years since the attacks, a fact that I'm not entirely prepared to accept. I never watch TV on Sept. 11 anniversaries; if I never see that footage again, it will be too soon. This year I'll be at Webster's Wine Bar, listening to four storytellers share their September 11 experiences in Second Story's "Ten Years Later: Stories from a Post-9/11 America", featuring stories from Merrie Greenfield, Stephanie Chavara, Laura Krughoff and Daaimah Mubashir. And if you can't bring yourself to go out on September 11, there will be an encore performance on Monday, Sept. 12.

Story Club will also be focusing on the 10 year anniversary on Thursday, Sept. 8. There will be four open mic slots for anyone who wants to bring their story (you can bring stories unrelated to the attacks as well), and there will be featured readings by Kelsie Huff, Kevin Gladish, Angela Benander and Dana Norris.

Story Club takes place Thursday, Sept. 8 at Uncommon Ground on Clark (3800 N. Clark), signup is at 8pm, stories start at 8:30pm, and the event is free. For more information visit Story Club.

Second Story takes place on Sunday, September 11 and Monday, September 12 at Webster's Wine Bar. Doors open at 7pm, stories start at 7:30pm, tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. For tickets and information visit Second Story.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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