My morning routine was to be woken up by my parents’ alarm clock radio, then stumble into their room and listen to NPR news until the grogginess cleared. On this day I woke up, stumbled in, and saw that my parents weren’t there. The radio was on and Bob Edwards was talking, but it wasn’t a normal newscast—he was describing something happening live, a smoking tower. I went to find my parents and found them in the basement, where the TV was, showing the news footage that everyone saw that day. When I asked what was happening, my mother said somebody had flown planes into the Twin Towers. She said something that I later realized was a reference to the movie Brazil, with its depiction of a world where terrorist attacks are constant.
As horrible as I knew they were, I always felt strangely detached from the attacks themselves. They were on the other side of the country, and I didn’t know anybody connected with them. I didn’t even know what the Twin Towers were until they fell. But what I did feel was the mood of the nation. It became angry and afraid. And that mood has never left us since.