Every generation has this kind of question hanging around. Where were you when a special event took place? It was JFK assassination in 1960's, Princess Diana's car crash in late 90's. The question this century is 9/11 terrorist attack.
I was at my apartment in New York, still asleep in bed. My roommate Dave knocked my door in the morning, a thing he never did before. I remember he said "Lu, you've got to see this." and the TV was real loud, another thing he never did.
The rest of the day was still surreal to me. We camped in front of the TV in our living room. I've got to go to school for my TA job. I have a recitation or office hour that afternoon, but I returned to my TV after the school chore was done.
The New York City was different after the attack. East coast people are known for their aloof attitude. A classmate told me she was kind of bothered when she spent her vacation back to the west coast where she grew up. It seems that everyone has to say hello to everyone. In the beginning you feel warm and friendly, but it gets old after a while and you just want people to leave you alone. I was laughing when she said that but didn't realize what that west coast thing really feels. The rest of the fall and that winter of 2001, I had a better idea. In a bus trip to meet my girlfriend, who was a graduate student in State College, PA., I talked to a lady sitting next to me the whole trip. When I was in line for something, anything in the city, people usually mind their own business before the terrorist attack. Not after that. New Yorkers were more chatty, friendly, and nice after 9/11. We got back to normal gradually, but a tragedy like this actually brought the best out of people.
I still remember the first baseball game I watched after the season resumed. My classmate Adam and I went to an NYY-BAL game to see the last series of Cal Ripken Jr. in the Yankee Stadium. I don't even remember who pitched that game now, but I still remember the standing ovation Ripken got and so deserved, and I remember the warm feel in the stadium although it's a soggy night. Life goes on and we need to live like we did. Just getting out in public like a normal ball game made me feel so good.
I don't think my life was ever changed by the attack except for those extra time spent on airports, bus terminals and train stations, yet the memory of that morning is still vivid after these 10 years.