On a Tuesday ten years ago, I woke up early to open at the movie theater where I worked during summers home from college.
I stared at the TV for two hours. Once, I ran outside and called to my dad, "The second tower just fell!" Eventually, I went to work.
It was a slow day at the movies.
On a Friday one year ago, my friend Bob called in to work saying that he'd be late because his car broke down on the side of the highway. An hour later, he called back saying he wouldn't be in at all. His wife was in labor.
When it rains, it pours, I guess.
I had already told him, "Tracy can't have this kid on Saturday. The other kids will call him a terror baby!" He took it in stride as only Bob can, suggesting tasteless joke names for his unborn son.
Saturday dawned. Amid a steady stream of "I remember where I was nine years ago today" updates on Twitter and Facebook came a message from my friend: He and his wife were the proud parents of a healthy baby boy.
All joking aside - they named him William.
Let's be clear. As the years go by, the date of September 11 will never mean nothing. For so many families and loved ones, it will always mean fear and heartbreak and pain.
For the rest of us, I hope that one day eventually it will mean something similar to December 7 - a date that marks not an end of American innocence, but a beginning of an era of American strength and dedication and ingenuity.
And I imagine that eventually there will be a group of kids in the Cincinnati area who primarily think, "September 11 - yeah, that's my pal Will's birthday! I hope his mom does the cupcakes-frosted-to-look-like-a-big-cake thing again this year!"
That's not such a bad thing, right?
On a Sunday this September, I'll head to the suburbs for a birthday party. I'll bring beer and a snack to share, because I know the game will be on. I'll put a Target gift card into a fancy tin, because I don't know what babies need when they turn 1, but I do know that whatever it is, you can probably find it at Target.
I'll see my friends, and I'll hold the sweet, smiling boy who's just learning how to walk and say "ball," and then I'll get tired and say, "Oof, you're too big, Will," and pass him off to someone else.
They say to never forget, but this isn't forgetting. It's just ... allowing other things to happen.
And this is a good thing.