The passing of Steve Jobs really struck me, and I've been slowing unraveling The Why.

Here's what I've got thus far:

When I was about five I moved with my mom and step-dad into a house in Saratoga, California, the next town south of Cupertino, home of Apple. I pretty much grew up in that house, in that neighborhood, in the Silicon Valley. I say "pretty much" because my parents are divorced and I did spend time, here and there, with my father.

I have often wondered what my life had been like if my mom and dad had stayed together, or if my mom hadn't remarried. With my dad, we lived in agricultural towns: Davis, Fresno, etc. Partly because that's my mom's industry, and partly because it was affordable. But my parents split when I was two and my mom remarried shortly thereafter and we moved to the Silicon Valley because my step-father is an engineer. At one point he worked for Apple.

So parents aside, what if Steve Jobs hadn't helped make what Apple what it is today? What if the Valley hadn't attracted so many smart, talented engineers and their families? What if the public schools I attended hadn't been so high ranking? Would I have gone to UC Berkeley? Would I be where I am today?

My step-father and his brother grew up in the city I live in now with my own family. They went to the same public schools as Steve Jobs. They went to class together. If we stay here, my daughter will go to those same exact schools.

I think Steve is bigger than Apple. I think Apple is a part of a web of institutions and economies and neighborhoods and I think I have more to thank him for than my new iPhone 4S.

I think I owe him my education.

This is one part of The Why.