There’s no way I can write about personal finance today. My mind won’t go there. It’s stuck in remembrances of five years ago.

It was about 7:10 a.m. Pacific. I had just arrived at work. One of my brothers came into my office. He looked glum. “What’s wrong?” I joked. “Did you have a fight with your wife?”

“A plane hit the World Trade Center,” he said. “It just collapsed.”

I laughed. “Right,” I said.

“I’m serious,” he said, and I could tell from his face that he meant it.

I ran to the warehouse to fetch the half-functional 13″ TV that we’d last used the morning of the Oklahoma City bombing. I took it to my office and plugged it in. We found a coat hanger to get better reception. We watched replay after replay. We watched the the second tower collapse. I spent the morning glued to this Metafilter thread (which is a fascinating real-time group reaction to the events). The telephone was silent — nobody called to order boxes.

As the day progressed and the name “Osama bin Laden” came to the fore, I began to research his possible motivations for attacking the United States. I printed out all of the articles I could find. Now, five years later, most of those online articles have disappeared, but I still have copies in a notebook that I keep on my shelf. It contains information that existed before the attacks became politicized.

The passage of time — and political machinations on all sides — has dulled the pain. Sometimes I want to peel back the scab, to recall how raw and vulnerable and shocked I felt. I want to be reminded how awful it was. I want to cry.

Where were you when you heard?

[Cooperative Research has an amazingly detailed complete 911 timeline. CNN's September 11: chronology of terror sticks to the essentials.]

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