The Country Boy and I spent 2001 living and working in England. Over the summer we backpacked around Europe. We had gone through Germany, Austria, France and Spain. So by September we were in Sorrento in southern Italy. We had explored Pompei, caught a bus down the Amalfi coast and sat on the beach in Positano eating gelato.
We were soaking up every moment and enjoying the Mediterranean climate. It was late afternoon and we were in our cabin where we were camping just out of the town, when another backpacker came back and we heard snippets of conversations. Some one said that a plane had flown into the Empire State Building. We raced up to the office to see what was on the television. Unfortunately my Italian was limited to what I had learnt in primary school (I could ask the way to the toilet and play "what's the time, Mr Wolf" very well!) so I didn't understand what was being said, but the images said enough.
Later we decided to go get dinner in Sorrento and found a "Irish" pub with pay tv (I know - who want to go to an Irish pub in Southern Italy???) and sat there watching gobsmacked what was going on.
The aftermath of that becomes rather blurry for me because the Country Boy caught the worst flu ever and spent the next 3 weeks very sick (giving us some interesting stories about Italian Hospitals etc). I know that we had trouble trying to take medication onto our flight back to London (no carry on luggage at all!). I know too that there seemed to be a change in the 'vibe' of the people we met. Certainly it dominated the conversations we had.
That time seems to me to be a time in my life of heightened experience. I didn't know anyone personally affected by the events of 9/11. No-one we knew had anyone lost or injured. And yet something had changed for us personally, and I am sure that most people feel this way too.