Watching 9/11 unfold live on TV in 9th grade biology next to the leggy, pale blonde who played guitar that I had a gigantic crush on. Watching all the jocks and preps do this huge weepy prayer circle at lunch that day and realizing it was entirely for show so everyone would know what good Christians they were.
I remember the sinking feeling in my stomach when I realized an unprecedented era of freedom, openness, and trust had died along with those 3000+ people.
I remember the casual, cruel racism the prayer circle crowd showed demeaning Muslims in the weeks that followed, and how some of them spent the next three years waiting with bated breath to go kill them some sand ******s for revenge. I remember everyone around me cheering the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, cheering the patriot act.
I was on a path to my current pinko commie excess before then, but I think more than anything, watching the lunatic desperation of fear and hatred descend from the top down upon all of us as the country was still struggling to mourn and recover was what pushed me over the edge.
I can’t swap war stories with those of you who loved through the uproar of the 60s or the economic devastation of the 70s or the ever present fear of annihilation of the 80s…but I remember clear as day when I watched my country’s defeat at the hands of terror. It informs an alarmingly and embarrassingly large portion of my worldview even now.
Ironically, the blonde wound up marrying a dopey, good hearted guy who’s now in the military and she’s desperately hoping we don’t get ourselves embroiled in anything that’s going to put his life at risk.