I wrote myself a little letter to commemorate 2002, which I spent with Dan, briefly. I've lost the letter, since, but the gist is thus: we went and saw Bryan at the columbarium at Arlington Cemetery, and it was perhaps the most intimate moment he and I have ever shared. We talked about XML, we talked about how so many people were dying in so many wars that Arlington Cemetery is being expanded. In fact, they're tearing down the barracks behind the USAF Memorial (although we didn't know this at the time).
On Friday, I received an offer letter to go work at a research institute, doing far less stressful things than I had been doing in the past (although I may get to do some red-teaming on the feds, which is always fun). They were in a hurry to get me to start. So Friday being the 7th, they wanted me to start on the tenth. Sandy came back from Cupertino this weekend, though, and while it wasn't all bucking like funnies, we certainly had no reason to check the mail, email or otherwise. I got the offer letter on Sep 10. I thought to myself, oh, well, I'll just call and we'll start tomorrow.
Oh, shit. It's that day again. Another year has gone by, and the smell of JP-8 from my apartment, the fire trucks and the gigantic hole in the Pentagon have faded. The Humvees with 240 Golfs (I don't think they were fifties, but then it was a long time ago) have gone from the city. We've really all forgotten the intensity of the moment, and what it meant (I suppose the people that perpetrated the act have also lost some of the immediacy of the act and perhaps forgotten what they were trying to achieve, instead just wreaking wanton destruction on their own people). Most of us don't live in 22202 or 22201. Maybe the rest of the world has forgotten already and it's just another "day that will live in infamy." We've got 12/7 and 9/11. But they're just days. How many people go and sit in a columbarium, or place flowers at the headstone of an eighteen-year-old on these days (you can find the ones from 12/7 at Arlington, too).
As Dan and I left Bryan's plaque at the columbarium, we didn't have much more to say. It had only been a year, and both of us were incredibly morose. A flight of Vipers flew overhead, in the missing man formation, low and incredibly loud over the 5gon. The wind picked up, and the fountain in front of us sprayed us both with a modest amount of water, but enough that we got wet. Dan looked at me, with a sort of a smile, one I don't think I'll ever understand. A smile that betrayed something of a broken heart, and at the same time of hope.
He said to me, as he removed his glasses to get the water off them, "It rained the day of Bryan's funeral." Rain, the vipers, water from the fountain. None of it is really related, but when you're reaching, when you need things to mean something, when nothing else makes sense, there's comfort in these random happen-stances. Dan, who reads this, and will probably remember as I do, probably doesn't realize that the time we shared that day was one of my most cherished with him. Time doesn't heal all wounds, but having friends like that helps a lot.
It rained viciously last night, and continues to rain today.