Friday, January 4, 2013

And then I looked for the emergency exits. A new normal.

The kids are back in school. When I dropped them off, I sat in the car and stared at the door to the classroom, sitting open in the damp breeze as leaves scuttled across the deck.

I never would have noticed it before. I never would have spent one single moment thinking about that open door.

But that was before Newtown.

Last week. I took the kids to the movies. As we settled into our seats, I scanned the room. I had a conversation in my head about whether we should switch seats. Should we be closer to an exit, or further away? Should we be on the aisle, or in the middle? And these questions had absolutely nothing to do with the view of the screen, which - until that day - had been the only consideration when choosing a seat.

But that was before Aurora.

A few nights ago, we were in a crowd that formed quickly around a celebrity. People were clamoring for photos and trying to get ever-closer to the subject of their excitement. I found myself pressed up against some chairs next to a railing. I couldn't move to the side, couldn't move forward. So I turned around and - in 6 inch stilettos - climbed over the backs of the chairs, several rows of them - to get away.  I was never a huge fan of crowds, but had never been truly frightened - until Tucson.

The bottom line is that, while I shared everyone's horror and disgust on December 14th, I had no idea how it would affect me in my own day to day life. And it turns out that it has affected me quite a bit.

That sucks.
It really, really sucks.

I hate to be worried about getting shot in a theater, or in a crowd, or worry about whether my kids are safe at school. And because I live in a place where gun violence is very rare, I am pretty confident that my fear is completely irrational and unjustified - which is the only reason I was able to drop my kids off and drive away, or sit through that movie, or stick around to watch the crowd disburse at that party.

But then the local movie theater was evacuated due to a bomb threat, and damned if I didn't read that news alert and think "We are never going to the movies again".

I don't know what my point is in writing all of this. I guess it is just to say that I am a fairly reasonable person, and I don't feel safe at the moment - and I don't think I am being paranoid. I am pretty sure I'm not the ony person who has these concerns, and once again I feel like there is comfort in a shared experience - whether it be one of joy or sadness or fear. When you are with someone else, and you are both feeling scared, sometimes just squeezing each other's hand and facing your fear together is the only thing that gets you through.

So here is my hand. I am squeezing tight. And I know it's gonna be okay.

No comments: