In nine years, a lot has changed - yet I still can't forget the stark, sudden shift in my life and in the world that took place in early September, 2001. Shortly after my brush with death behind the wheel at the hands of some rubbernecking trucker, I left home on September 3, 2001 and went to Peterborough to begin my studies at Trent University. Eight days later, the 1990s ended. I still remember the graffiti that someone had wrote on one of the Science Complex's long wooden desks - "North America's security bubble has been burst."
That's all it ever was, really. A bubble. A convenient fiction. It's been decades since we could sincerely believe that the vastness of the oceans provided any isolation or insulation from the rest of the world. It was the end of our "vacation from history" where the Free World was victorious, everyone was at peace, and things would be awesome from then on. It was a common assumption, I'd imagine, because what would the Cold War have been about otherwise? War is horrible enough even with the dividends brought by peace.
I still remember how that day went down, where I was when the news reached me. Room C21, Champlain College, Trent University, sitting on the tiled floor eating nachos with salsa dip in a round Tupperware container, watching a videotape of The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police. The ordinary life of an ordinary university student on an ordinary day. Then the call came through - a call that made be believe that the nukes were flying and the end of the world was here. I tore ass to the TV room and found it already full of people staring at the screen, the screen with a view of lower Manhattan full of smoke and ash and dust.
Dividing lines in the course of one's life can rarely be drawn so starkly - but there it is. Pre-university and post-university, pre-9/11 and post-9/11, practically two different worlds. Only ten years separates us from 2000, but it's surely another country now.
Now, nine years later, the anniversary comes around and I find myself at the brink again. Had I stayed in the Toronto mayoral race, I'd be fulminating at Rob Ford for what I see as foolishness and shortsightedness, and doing what I could to ensure that when the next stark dividing line is drawn, whatever it may be, Toronto will be better off than it is now. But that's not how it turned out, is it? I pulled out of the election, left the silent chaos of the fringe while the perspectives that shape the world congregate around the "professionals" that have a hope in hell of running this city come December, and now I worry whether I'll see the dust of things torn down in the name of "saving tax dollars," of not creating things because the alternative comes with a price tag, of going along the convenient road rather than the necessary one.
Personally, I'm taking the harder road.
In the very near future I will be moving to Vancouver, British Columbia. It's a heavy truth to admit, and heavier still to leave behind almost everything you know for a new chance and new opportunities in a new land. This weblog will continue to be maintained - I've been going without a break for nearly a year and a half, I'm not about to stop now - but will have that new perspective on the world.
Sometimes, seeing something familiar from an unfamiliar direction is as good as seeing it for the very first time.