This blog seems to be as good a place as any to set down some of my main September 11 memories – even though the post doesn’t fall into any of the categories I’ve set up.

Along with so many others, I recall vividly how beautiful that morning was in Washington, D.C., and apparently throughout the northeast. I was in my apartment, eating my usual cold cereal breakfast shortly before 9, when I saw an initial CNBC report that an airliner might have crashed into the World Trade Center. I thought about how odd that was, given that I couldn’t recall any similar skyscraper-related air accidents for decades. But since the Twin Towers were so tall, I didn’t rule it out of hand.

Shortly after 9 – still before I left for work – came news of the second strike at the Towers, leaving no doubt that attacks, not accidents, were responsible.

I stayed home as reports came in of the Pentagon strike and of a possible fourth airliner that appeared to have been hijacked, not quite knowing how to proceed. Given the chaos I was watching in lower Manhattan, I saw no point in trying to check in by phone with relatives and friends who worked or lived in the vicinity. I’m sure I spoke with my parents, safely in Florida, and a little later with my brother in Los Angeles, but don’t specifically remember the conversations.

Scary reports continued coming in on television, especially regarding attacks on the National Mall in Washington. By around 10, I decided to try to go into work – mainly because I didn’t have a computer at home then and wanted to use the internet if possible to take advantage of all of its news resources. To my surprise, the Red Line of the D.C. Metro, at least, was working, and I made it downtown in the usual few minutes. (In retrospect, it’s strange that I wasn’t worried about the chances of an attack on that system.)

Some of my colleagues had come in, too, and we spent quite a while watching TV, monitoring the web, and exchanging stories of our reactions. I then remembered that I had a lunch scheduled that day with a visitor from the West Coast and tried phoning her to check on her situation and plans. Again, to my surprise, I got through easily, and we decided to try to go ahead and meet. It was clear to me on my way to work that many businesses in the District of Columbia were closed, but I remembered one restaurant that had managed to stay open during some of Washington’s worst blizzards, and recommended we rendezvous there.

My instincts were right – it was business as usual at that Dupont Circle spot. But on the walk to it up Connecticut Avenue, came my most vivid September, 11 memory: warily making my way, and continually looking up at the sky for any sign of a new threat. It was the first time (and last) that I recall ever being in the United States and feeling vulnerable to foreign aggression.

The rest of the day is something of a haze. I decided that there was no point returning to work, and walked the two miles or so back home – though whether it was because the system halted service or I was concerned about its safety I can’t say. The weather was still beautiful.

I stayed in for the next two or three days, watching the news obsessively, getting in touch with family and friends in New York, trying to make sense of it all philosophically and in terms of the attacks’ policy implications. You can read my first analysis here. Do you agree that it holds up pretty well after 13 years?

Fortunately for me, I eventually learned that my only September 11-related loss was the son of a professional friend who perished at the World Trade Center. I never met the young man, but sent his father condolences every year for quite a few years.

One September 11 coda: About a year later, I had occasion to travel to Japan and China – my trip to the first was in response to a conference invitation, the second trip kicked off a three-month fellowship in Beijing and Shanghai. On both trips, I spoke to various academic and business audiences, and of course the attacks came up. The United States, I repeatedly promised during these talks, would hunt down the perpetrators and kill them (using those words). I remember a lot of nervous tittering in response.

A second September 11 coda. In the fall of 2003, I wangled tickets for a Redskins game versus my New York Giants at Fedex Field in Washington. My fiancée and I sat in a section full of especially loud Redskins fans, and I engaged in lots of (good-natured) jawing back and forth. At one point, boiling over with frustration, one of the Redskins fans below me stood up and yelled out, “God, how I hate New York!” A few moments, he stood up again, turned back to face me, and said with a warm smile on his face, “You know, I really don’t hate New York at all.” “I know,” I replied.