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Hurricane Sandy, Senseless Tragedy and Never Forgetting 9/11

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I'm not sure about New Yorkers, but the past week triggered some of the same feelings I experienced on and after 9/11.

I lived in San Francisco in 2001.

On the morning of Sept. 11, I was taking a bus to work downtown when the first plane hit. By the time I arrived at the office, it was clear what had happened. However, it wasn't clear what would happen next.

On 9/11, everybody in America, to varying extents, felt like a target, particularly if you lived in a great city with iconic landmarks.

Reports of unaccounted-for aircraft potentially targeting the Golden Gate Bridge or Transamerica Building terrified me. In the moment, sitting in a San Francisco skyscraper, I gave little thought to what people in lower Manhattan were going through. I was concerned with my own skin.

I took the bus back home to what instantly felt like safety when I turned on the telly and quickly pieced facts together. New York (and Washington, D.C.) was under siege, not San Francisco.

At that juncture, I experienced the once-in-a-while, but comfortably uncomfortable moment where I feel my feelings transitioning from one extreme to another.

From fear to relative calm to a sense of surreal awe and heartbreaking helplessness, tinged with persistent guilt.

It's the stuff internal conflict is made of: I was grateful to NOT be in New York on 9/11, but guilty as hell for not being there.

I wanted to help. But, more than that, I couldn't stop thinking: "Why them and not me?"

Living in earthquake country, I experience these competing emotions frequently.

Why does Haiti or Japan or Mexico get rocked, but Southern California is spared? Does God, "destiny" or whatever dictates our fates favor one region of the world or one set of people over another?

It's all too difficult to process, particularly the brutality and randomness.

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