Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sept. 11, 2008

Seven years ago today, I was just beginning law school. It was our second full week of school on that Tuesday morning. It's so strange - Eric and I have completely different memories of where we were that morning and how we found out about the planes. As I recall it, we were on our way to the train station. Eric was going to drop me off at CalTrain, and continue onto Oakland where he worked. First, we went to Molly Stone's, the grocery store across the street, to get our daily cup of coffee and the woman at the counter said, "have you heard? A plane crashed into the World Trade Center." We didn't believe her, at first, but then we headed to the front of the store - where there was a television - and saw the footage, already playing over and over again. We ran back home. Amy was in town visiting us, and was getting ready to go to the airport. We rushed back in and she had already heard. We all sat on the couch watching the television in silence and then I had a panic attack -- I needed to get to law school. It's so weird that I was worried about being at school. I was so nervous about starting law school, but I don't think that was it. I think I just wanted to run away from the news. Eric and Amy drove me to Stanford and headed back home. Of course, classes were canceled that day, so I caught a ride home with a classmate. Once I got back home, we all sat and stared at the television for many, many more hours. We were in shock, along with the rest of the world.

By late afternoon, we couldn't take it anymore and we headed to the ocean. The ocean has always been the place that both Eric and I go whenever we need peace and the space to think. The vastness of the ocean, it's incredible power, the monotony of the waves, it's hypnotic energy -- we needed that. We needed to just stare out at something permanent and something bigger than ourselves. We barely spoke - except, I remember at one point Eric said, "well... there goes 2004." He was right. And the country has suffered so dearly as a result of those attacks - far beyond the death and destruction of the actual attacks. We lost our sense of direction on that day and our ability to evaluate the political, economic and social decisions of our leaders in a reasoned matter. Our collective judgment became clouded by fear and insecurity - and it cost us an election, our economy, and the lives of thousands more people than those of the people who died during the attacks on that day seven years ago. What it really cost us, ultimately, was our country.

Here it is, seven years later and this country is no longer recognizable to me. I feel like some bizarre bystander - watching chaos unfold around me, unable to do anything. We knew it was going to change everything on that day, seven years ago. Beyond the tragedy that was unfolding, we knew the real tragedy was how we would respond and how the events of that day would be used for political gain. I wasn't afraid of terrorists after 9/11, but I was afraid of the world we would create in the wake of 9/11. I was right to be afraid, but what has happened is so much worse than I imagined.

I hope we elect Barak Obama and I hope that he can make some dent in undoing the damage that has been done. There is finally a glimmer of hope - 7 years later. Let's hope we get there.

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