I was 12 for 9/11. I saw the second plane hit on TV as I went inside my friend Joe's house. I was a little early for the bus. My science class had a field trip today, and that went off fine. Caleb's father, an Air Force man, drove us out to Tent rocks. We joked, being middle school boys (of course, the passenger load was all male) and worried that Albuquerque might be a target, because we had an Air Force base, and everyone knew the mountains were full of nuclear weapons.
My father left work early, unable to grind through the job when something so gravely profound had just happened. He went home, to be with the family, who trickled in. I came back from the field trip, my brother from 4th grade, and mom came home from a day of substitute teaching.
At his elaborate retirement community, my Grandfather heard the news, and rapidly began the descent that ended in a hospital next November. I think, more than anything, more than the lung cancer, 9/11 is what broke him. He was a diplomat, you see. This was his life, this preventing and forestalling tragedy. He was crucial in the first Camp David peace accords, he had met multiple times with Yasser Arafat on behalf of the United States. This was a man who knew the middle east, as well as any outsider could, and he cared deeply for a peaceful solution to what always seems to manifest itself as an unending problem. 9/11 broke him.
I can't really separate the events now. There's over a year overlap, and the events were separate enough at the time. Just - this man was the inspiration to me, not so much from when I knew him, but from what I knew about him. He fits in my pantheon somewhere. My reaction to 9/11 will always include that, will include promises sworn at cemeteries by an idealistic 13-year-old, and will always have the whole distance that New Mexico brings to worldly events. I didn't really lose anyone, I had no one I worried for after the event. I just allowed the world to have its profound affect on my emerging adolescence.
So it goes.