Eleven years ago today, the only way I thought my life was about to change forever was by the imminent birth of my child. I didn’t even know “it” was going to be a boy, so my bedroom had a bunch of neat little stacks of yellow, green and white onesies and blankets that I had folded as meticulously as I’ve ever folded anything. (Why can’t the nesting urge stay with us beyond childbirth?) On September 10th, 2001, I went to work and probably left my Senate ID in my desk all day since we didn’t need it to get anywhere but “on the floor.” Back in the day, anyone could walk underneath the Capitol, from the Senate to the House. Unsupervised. Security guards never made you take off your shoes. We made fun of people who wore their IDs around their neck or clipped to their belt. For the record, we didn’t have blackberries back in these dark ages either, though we did have these little pagers. The only time I consistently used mine was to go take a 45-minute nap at lunch in the nurse’s station during my last trimester of pregnancy. Emma, who sat at the desk in front of my office, was the only person who knew where I was, and if someone was looking for me, she could page me. Though she never did.
Then everything changed. Now we live in a society that grinds to a halt when someone accidentally leaves their knapsack on the metro. We look askance at people who might be different from us. We can’t get bottled water through security at the airport. Many families have emergency plans that don’t just include where to meet if there is a house fire, but what to do if there is another terrorist attack. The world is a different place than it was when we were growing up (isn’t that what people always say?) but yet, my kids walk to their bus stop every morning, they want to listen to “their” music, and they crack up at the mention of the word “fart.” (True, it happened today.)
Things change, yet in some very fundamental – and comforting – ways, they stay the same.