September 11 has become one of those unfortunate iconic events that is the equivalent of the assassinations of John Lennon and JFK for my generation. It elicits that question of of us all: 'Where were you when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers?'
Folding nappies. My partner and I were home that night in 2001, up late (a rare thing for us) trying to tackle the elephant that comes with having a ten-month-old – sorting a pile of clean laundry and folding nappies. The television was providing background noise, rather than anything interesting to watch, when they cut to the emergency news broadcast to report that a plane had crashed into the first tower.
We were watching the footage with some horror and disbelief, trying to make sense of the turmoil on screen, when we saw another plane crash into the second tower. I don't need to go back over the rest of those events. The media will keep reminding us.
Each year since, we are told that the September 11 has changed the world, that everything is different now, what with the 'War on Terror', the War in Iraq, and the Bush-Howard ascendency in the conservative politcs of the US and Australia. Yesterday was no different.
Yesterday's hand-wringing and finger-pointing got me down a bit, as did the triumphalism of the Bush administration's tribute to its War on Terror. No, I don't think 'we' are winning, whoever 'we' is.
But, perhaps my experience of the day would have been different if grief and trauma had been the abiding features of my experience of the day. After all we were safe here in Melbourne, half a world away.
Late last night, I chose to fold a modest pile of nappies to mark this anniversary in a quiet, personal way. It was oddly resonant that five years on, I found myself in a position to be folding nappies again, what with our second child now four months old.
That simple act allowed me to reflect on the events that have changed the world for all of us in many ways, but to also to reclaim for myself that small but not insignificant part of life that keeps going on – the banality of living and of raising children. It is my anchor.