20 Years Ago Today

/ 11 September 2021

20 years ago today I drew these 4 drawings. Make of them as you will, as some of you had the chance to a decade ago when I first digitized them and put them online. I’m sure any deeper meaning the person who drew them, my former self that is, could have had no intention of at the time. After all, he was just a young kid that day.

20 years ago I was a 4th grader at Groveland Park Elementary School in Mr. Nelson’s class in room 305. That school is now in its 100th academic year.

But 20 years ago today I was home sick. The one exact date I’ve ever been, or ever will be, sick that I’ll forever remember was a day that I was sick. I truly think it was somewhat of a good thing, as that meant I, and my mom, were home that day, together. Being home sick, I also remember that my mom at one point got a call from one of my teachers. My brother was at his preschool, where the teachers had told my mom not to discuss the attacks with him.

20 years ago today was my dad’s second day at his job at the University of Minnesota libraries. For the year before that he was communting by plane weekly back to Boston, where we’d moved from a year earlier, as he finished up his duties at MIT. He is who first heard about the attacks in our family, and called my mom telling her to turn on the TV. I still remember, or think I do at least, what one of the images I saw on our TV in our Living Room that morning was.

20 years ago today I was not yet even old enough for my age to have 2 digits in it. I am now at the edge of being 30. Where has the time gone? Yet also, how sad that such a pivotal moment in my life, and those of everyone my age, occurred so early on.

20 years ago today I had no idea what our world, and my life, would be like in the then-upcoming decades. I, and my entire generation, was still a young innocent child. How could I truly dream of the future I’d have? Or of what kinds of technology and events would appear and change everyone’s world, hopefully for the better.

20 years ago today I was just beginning to know some folks who’d stay friends through my high school years, and thanks to social media still “see” echoes of now and then.

20 years ago today we all had our own unique experiences. This we do every day, to be fair. But on this one day, we all were in one way or another traumatized. Our world was shattered, and the world we live in now is forever a path that diverged from that morning. 9/11, like now 1/6 and others, is burned into our experience as a defining moment. We simply cannot ignore this.

20 years ago today my main non-academic pasttime was playing with Legos. That later morphed through the robotic Legos and Applescript into a trajectory that leads right up to the programming work I spend my time now doing for Tenseg. I no longer build creations out of plastic blocks, but apps and websites out of lines of code. But it is with the same creativity and unique eye to the world around me.

20 years ago today I’d have still been struggling with my own health in ways that present me isn’t (though, to be fair, still have some struggles, as do we all), thanks to the two surgeries I’ve had in the past two decades. Now physical health is the lesser, but maybe partly due to all of this, mental health is a concern. That, too, seems somewhat societal.

20 years ago today I maybe still had some will to be around, the naivety to think or even want my life to matter. But it was not that long after that I began to think differently. Adulthood more or less coincided with feeling that way most of the time. So perhaps the truth of what little meaning there is in my life is that there is none, in the scheme of things.

20 years ago today I was still early in my school years. Today’s kids are learning of the events of that day as history that their very teachers and parents lived. Yet they, like us, are being permanently shaped by the pandemic, and climate change, in ways that we are not yet even aware of.

20 years ago today we all were stunned by the actions of a very few. Our country was forever changed, as was the world. But here in 2021, after years of war, and hell even the pandemic now, there have been massively higher casualties since then. A single ant could’ve made a hill to represent that day’s death toll, compared to a mountain that’d crack the very core of our planet being needed to represent those since.

20 years ago today would have had no idea just how much these drawings bridge both my intense creativity and pointed into what I ultimately studied in college, despite my work today being largely a code-based version of creative work not always for causes that are related directly to my field of academic study.

20 years ago today began a strange time of silence in the skies. Especially given that we reside along one of the flight paths to the MSP airport. There has not been a time like it since. But I will possibly live to see another such time brought on by very different forces.

20 years ago today there was no iPhone, and not even an iPod except within Apple’s labs. That alone represents the technological leaps we have taken. Yet has any of that been truly good for society? I mean, much of the internet, not just social media but search engines too, only further silo us into the groups we already choose to be in. We are seeing the damage of that kind of segregation every day.

20 years ago today forever changed how everyone viewed travelling. Mostly air teavel changed dramatically. Maybe it is a form of theater, but it is someone’s idea of security. But I believe that virtually all travel got more wary, at least for a time, and that permanently shifted the global landscape politically. Today we may be equally wary of travel, thanks to the pandemic.

20 years ago today, and onwards to a moment years later when at Crosswinds I remember being one of a few students, but many of Earth House’s teachers were there, choosing to watch as President Bush gave some sort of speech, we had no idea we’d one day look back longingly at that administration, when we all learned that there was a much worse way to run the country. We’re still struggling with a pandemic to a level much attributable to that next Republican president, as my cousin was involved in the Obama White House helping plan for a pandemic, those plans being thrown aside in the following administration.

20 years ago today I frankly don’t remember exactly what I thought that my adulthood would be like. But I can say that what it has become is nowhere near what anyone that day could have guessed. Not from any fault of my own. But from the collective shitty shifting of everything. The climate has gotten worse, and even then we could barely change course there, let alone today. Our economies have too, and not just due to the war that was triggered following this day. I look at the number of aunts and uncles I have, and cousins that followed from that. Yet I know that I am not alone in feeling that it would be irresponsible to even try and continue our species, because even we are bound, in what a natural lifespan is looked at as today, to suffer dramatic consequences from climate and other natural forces.

This litany could go on, and yet we only just, in such a bloody way, our country ended its longest ever war, that lasted nearly 20 years and stemmed from that fateful day 20 years ago today. Refugees are probably in serious culture shock because of the tranquility on our streets compared to where they fled from.