9-11-2001. I was living with my girlfriend at the time. Her mom called from Florida and woke us up. I was still trying to sleep and heard half the conversation — something about a plane hitting a building. My first conclusion: “It sounds like she’s watching some movie or something.”
But we turned on the TV shortly before 6 AM our time and slowly began to figure out something horrible had happened. We were wondering what kind of terrible breakdown at air traffic control had occurred to let a plane fly into the World Trade Center when we saw the second plane hit, and all of a sudden we were living in a different country.
The crash of that second jet was the herald of an alternate universe every American had suddenly slipped into. From that exact moment the flag looked different in some subtle way. Politics changed. Neighbors acted differently, some choosing to become closer and more caring, others becoming paranoid and suspicious of anyone who looked vaguely middle eastern. But nothing was the same. That second impact was the indelible marker between what we were before and what we are now.