People of a "certain" age now have two defining moments in our lifetimes. For almost 40 years, the "where were you?" question referred to the assassination of President Kennedy. In 2001 that changed with the terrorist attacks by airplane. In the first case, I was a kindergartener, but I clearly remember disbelieving the older kids on the school bus, because how could a President be shot?
On September 11, 2001 I had gone to shower at my mother's apartment because I was in the midst of another bathroom renovation. The background noise from the little TV soon became the centerpiece of our morning. Peter Jennings became our closest informant. Although there was a special horror for Massachusetts folks because of the flight that originated in Boston, my focus was on New York City, where I had a personal attachment to the skyline from my years of living in Clifton, New Jersey. It was in many ways the same sense of disbelief I had felt at the age of five, and in other ways very different as an adult and a parent.
We all know about the range of emotions that came in the days and months after. I am not going to try to put it into words. The feeling of silence struck me, though, knowing there were no planes in the sky for days afterwards. Empty.