I don't remember what I ate for dinner last night. I couldn't tell you what I did after work on Monday without really sitting and thinking about it for a minute. It would probably take me a while to name the last five books I've read, too (but more because I read a lot). But I can tell you as clear as day that 12 years ago, I was wearing blue jeans with a new shirt my aunt had just gotten for me for my 13th birthday which I thought looked especially great with my new short haircut. I was getting my clarinet out of my pint-sized locker for 3rd period 8th grade band when a guy in my class said that someone was attacking the World Trade Center and we said that was a really sick twisted kind of joke to say. But then instead of going to band, I was ushered into Mrs. Arnold's classroom where I wasn't supposed to be until 4th period for Algebra. We were there because the news was on and a building was burning and we watched a plane fly into the second tower.
Twelve Septembers later, the world is a drastically different place, yet a lot is still the same. Today I woke up and went to school, only I'm not the student anymore. I sat at my desk and wrestled my long hair into a bun and got to the business of helping my students find books to fall in love with. I watched the images from my youth on the news in passing online and on TV, and us adults of the building were all measurably less jovial than usual. Meanwhile, the students who were all very quiet and respectful during the national moment of silence, had no memories to ponder - most of them were toddlers or infants on that day. Their afternoon and mine consisted of figuring out how to make a TARDIS out of cardboard boxes as part of their homecoming decorations.
I think now about all the hundreds of books I've read in the past 12 years, how those stories and the events of September 11, 2001 have changed me and my way of looking at the world. Times that the leaves have turned, fallen, and come again. And while it's easy to get caught up with the stories we haven't read or written yet, I think it's important to look back at history, full of its truths far stranger, sadder, and more impossible than the wildest fictions, and remember.