Like many aspiring writers, I planned to move to New York after college. When the towers fell, I stayed in California for a few years before eventually trying to make it there.

On the west coast, 9.11 changed the way we thought about New York. It humanized a place that before, we defined our part of the country in contrast to--they were snooty and superior, we were free-spirited and down to earth. But the events of 9.11 happened all too near by--New York was closer that we thought, and its people weren't the pretentious prep-school grads that populate Woody Allen movies, but like us--real, and vulnerable.