Writing about 9/11 from the distance of California reminds me of that joke about how many Vietnam Veterans does it take to screw in a light bulb ?
Answer:"I don't know"
Response, "You don't know !!!! You don't know because you weren't there man!!!!"
I was in the kitchen in Japantown in San Francisco making breakfast for our one year old and for her 8 year old sister. A friend called knowing we did not have a TV and we watched the second tower fall on the CNN website. The 8 year old thought it was a movie and said "Cool! I closed the computer and did not watch any footage again.
For the next three or four months everything seemed different. Everyone seemed more careful with each other on the street. We were all more patient with each other.
A few weeks after September 11 I was at the counter at Peet's coffee and there was a long line behind me. I paid for my drink and put 40 dollars on the counter and told the woman behind the counter to buy everyone behind me what they wanted and walked out. Stangers paid my toll on the Bay Bridge.
Now 10 years later it is hard to remember that time at all. Looking back buying those drinks for those people seems grandiose. We are back to cursing at each other on the freeway. A woman yelled at me because she thought I was trying to cut in line at Whole Foods. I catch myself notifying an assistant that we could no longer work together...via text message.
We are like that married couple who come close to breaking up and decide to reconcile. For the first few weeks things seem like they are better but slowly they forget how close they came to ending it all and soon the old problems return and they learn to live with them.
But I remember when things were different and I will not forget.