What the East Coast Snowstorm and 9/11 Have in Common
This past weekend, as I walked along the beach in 70 plus degree weather in my Southern California backyard, I saw the snow-capped mountains in the background and remembered that my former home, Washington, DC, was getting walloped with record snowfall. I suddenly felt out of touch with the East. Then I realized that on September 11, 2001, the shoe was on the other foot.
On 9/11/01, I was living in the DC area and working just a few blocks from the White House. I was personally affected by 9/11 in a big way, including losing a former girlfriend on one of the flights, wondering if we would be targeted again in DC, being from New York, having friends and family working in the World Trade Center that day, and having once worked there myself. After 9/11, I was a mess for months, at one point being so distracted that I smacked my car into a support column in the parking garage of the building where I had been living for years.
But that was not necessarily the case with everyone in California. One person out here had an idea of how I and others in the East had been personally impacted by the events of 9/11, yet seemed oblivious and barely brought the subject up. I was plenty pissed off about that, and it caused a strain in our friendship.
Now, as I live here near the beach, and the weather is nearly perfect, I can see how folks in California can lose touch with their compatriots in DC, and vice versa. All those homilies we heard about how 9/11 brought this country together, even for a moment, were greatly exaggerated, in my opinion. There is a vast physical distance, and often a wide gap, between East and West. I tried to bridge that gap yesterday, on long telephone calls with my best friend and my sole family member who live in the DC area, to see if they were having fun and getting along okay in the snow.