Around fifteen years ago at this time, I was blissfully unaware that the world had changed. Erin was at work and I was at home in our apartment in the midst of our move into our new house (purchased just eleven days beforehand). I was working on a database for a client and, this being the era before Twitter or Facebook, was isolated from the news. I only gained an inkling of something being wrong when Erin called me to tell me that she’d heard reports of a plane hitting the World Trade Tower, and did I know more. I didn’t.
Erin, at the time, thought the plane was a Cessna or something, so we weren’t alarmed. I tried looking up the CNN news site, but it was slow to load, so I went out to the living room and turned on CBC Newsworld. I was just in time for them to show replayed footage of the second tower collapsing.
Fifteen years later, I have gone from 29 to 44. We now have two kids, both in grade school. Erin and I helped my mother-in-law and her husband relocate to Canada. We’ve seen the rise of horrible wars in the Middle East. We’ve felt hope, despair, and determination, and we continue to slog along. Some things didn’t pan out. Blogs, which rose to prominence in the aftermath of the attack, have faded away to a handful of social media sites. We elected Barack Obama and, while he did very well considering what he was up against, I think it’s fair to say that he didn’t meet the (somewhat unfair) expectations we placed on him.
I think, fifteen years later, what I take most from the September 11 terrorist attacks and their aftermath is that life goes on. That phrase, in my opinion, is decidedly ambiguous. It means everything goes on — all the good and all the bad continue as before, with only minor shifts after a big shake-up. We still love, we still hope, and we still fight and we still hate. 9-11 changed everything — except that it didn’t. All it did was put an exclamation point in the middle of our lives, and gave us a reference point to measure ourselves against in the years to come.