The distance between now and 2001 is so extreme that it seems less temporal than spatial. Not so much another era as an alternate dimension. The disparity applies to me as an individual and to my country. One of my biggest concerns Back Then was doing my hair, an extravagant routine that typically involved some combination of shampooing, conditioning, soaping, gelling, moussing, spraying, combing, brushing, mussing, and drying by speedwalking down the hallway. I can’t say what the U.S.’s biggest concerns were, because I paid almost no attention to politics.
But now? The unemployment rate wakes me up at night. I sign political petitions and email my Congresspeople. I typically listen to NPR multiple times a day and top forty music once or twice a week. Back Then it was the other way around.
Now the U.S. is weaker, but I am stronger. I am wiser, and my country is getting there.