asher63 (asher63) wrote,

September 11, Fifteen Years On

I heard about it when I got to work.

At the time, I didn't have internet at home, as a lifestyle choice - preferred to keep things low-tech. (The internet was still pretty new then, of course, so it was easier to do this than it would be today.) I'd been living in Portland for about a year and a half; my Mom was still alive, back in Connecticut, but my Dad had passed away about eleven months earlier. I was doing temporary clerical jobs; my gig for that morning was pretty simple, just sitting at a desk and registering people attending the Society of Exchange Counselors convention at some hotel.

The mood was agitated and confused when I got there; the lady who was working the registration table with me filled me in on what had happened. People were in various stages of shock, anger, confusion, horror, and disbelief; I think the reality had not quite yet sunk in. Eventually a big-screen TV was brought in by the hotel staff.

So that's my obligatory "where were you" story. What's more important, I think, are the questions: Where am I now? How far, and in what direction, have I traveled since then? And where am I going from here?

I'll try to answer those questions briefly here; more complete answers will hopefully come later.

Community is important to me now, as it was then, only perhaps more so. (One of the reasons I eschewed the internet was to force myself to get out of the house and interact with people in the real world.) In those days, I looked to the local liberal synagogue, and to the local Green Party chapter, for community. The coming years would, of course, bring changes in my thinking that would lead me away from those institutions.

Nowadays I'm a regular at the Chabad synagogue across the street from where I live. I'm also serving as the chazzan for Sunday mornings, and I led the services there again this morning. I spent a brief period as a Democrat, but I did not like the direction I saw the party heading, and became a Republican on 2004 February 4, the day following Joe Lieberman's withdrawal from the 2004 Democratic primary.

Ironically, back then I lived almost directly across the street from the Masonic lodge, but never entered it as I was not a member. I became involved in the Freemasons in 2014 (having just moved back to Portland after a few years in San Francisco) and so I now travel regularly to my old neighborhood to attend Lodge meetings.

What's changed is the way I look at the world. What I understand now, that I didn't understand then, is that we are in a civilizational war. I see America differently, too. I was never a hard-core lefty, but whatever sympathy I might once have had to the idea of "fighting American imperialism" is gone. America is not perfect, but we are not what's wrong with the world. And my relationship to my Jewish life is different now, too - I would say deeper and richer.

And I am glad that I live in a country where I enjoy the right to concealed-carry to the synagogue.

The biggest thing that's changed for me, of course, is that Bunny is now a part of my life. She came on the scene in 2007; she and TNG (who's now almost 21) were the reasons I stayed in San Francisco as long as I did. Bunny was my first experience with full-time parenting. Having children changes you in ways you can't imagine.

So that's a little about where I was then, and where I am now - looking back fifteen years and remembering that day.

Tags: freemasons, hebraica, kids, usa

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