What Were You Doing When…


I was born three years after JFK was shot. I could never understand how people could recall exactly what they were doing the moment they heard the news. For me, this was a subject of history. It had no personal meaning.

After the morning of September 11, 2001, I understood. I was asleep (I live on the West Coast). The phone range. I answered it.

It was my friend Anna. She kept saying “They attacked us! They attacked us!” I kept asking “Who? What do you mean?”

Eventually, she just told me to go turn on the news. Anna and I were friends, but not super-close, talk-every-day-on-the-phone kind of friends. That moment made an indelible mark on our friendship.

I remember the surreal feel the following days and weeks, everyone walking around numb, disoriented, confused. I remember going to the gym and staring out the window at the conifers lining the ridge across the valley.

That day, 9/11, everything changed. It’s a clear demarcation in my life, similar to before/after kids, before/after sobriety. The difference is that September 11 is a day that everybody’s life changed, not just mine.



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