Forgive the rambling nature of this entry—the lack of a single, coherent thesis.
I woke up this morning to the image of stricken young people. I didn’t know their faces, but I know that expression. I know that expression.
Then I saw a photo of a blood-spattered girl lying in a parking lot, and I thought, “In The New York Times? Have we gotten so sensational?” Because, you see, I haven’t watched television news in 18 ½ years. I have sheltered myself from those images.
And then I thought “Good for them, God damn it! Make America look at a blood-spattered girl in the denim shorts she put on before the concert, looking for the right combination of cute and comfortable. When she was excited to be going to the music festival. When she was young and had forever in front of her. Good for you, New York Times! Rub everyone’s face in it. Make them a feel a fraction of what I feel!”
I spent the morning on the edge of tears, my stomach churning, my head spinning.
I couldn’t take it anymore, and when classes were over I left school and went shopping for ingredients for chicken noodle soup and cornbread. Comfort food.
On the way home, I had NPR on, and the reporter was interviewing a country music journalist who had been at the concert. He talked about how they thought it was fireworks at first, just like us. Then they realized, and he was in the disabled people’s section, and he told of able-bodied people risking themselves to push wheelchairs and carry people. The reporter asked, “Do you mind if I play a clip?” and he said, “No.”
And I thought, “YES, YOU DO! YOU DO MIND! YOU JUST DON’T KNOW IT!”
How could he know whether or not he minded? He’d never been in a situation where, hours after fleeing for his life, carrying people who couldn’t walk and then filling his car with strangers while the woman in the car ahead of him was shot, he might be asked to listen to a video clip of the trauma. What a stupid God damned question!
I turned off my radio and sobbed and wailed, sounds I haven’t heard come out of me in years. Driving down the street filling my car with anguish. No words, only sound.
But good for you NPR. LISTEN TO THOSE PEOPLE, AMERICA! Listen to the shots and the screams. LISTEN!
And fuck you, NRA, for always insisting that now is not the time or place to talk about the issue of guns in America. Look, I get that a woman who has been wailing in her car and is now typing in all caps is not the person who should be making gun legislation, but at some point we have to start caring enough to call bullshit on people who say we can never even talk about the toll guns are taking on our country. Calmer heads than mine can have the conversation about balancing safety and freedom, but that conversation has to happen!
So LOOK, AMERICA at the blood-spattered youth and the vacant, shocked, staring eyes. LISTEN, AMERICA to the shots and the screams.
Me, I’m just going to retreat into Lorazepam and chicken soup. Talk amongst yourselves.