Friday, February 15, 2008

Contemplating Cole Hall

There's a lot of things in life that don't make sense to me, like why "domestic partnerships" are more threatening to the Religious Right than "gay marriage", or the way guy's brains work. As I sit here on the morning of Friday, Februray 15, 2008, I'm attempting to make sense of the series of emotions that have been tumbling around whatever area of my body where emotions reside. I'm thinking the stomach.

For at least half of my high school career I was semi-obsessed with school shootings, in the sense that they horrified me, and I saw the stirrings of how it could happen at my own school and took active measures with my more creative friends to raise awareness. There's something exteremely, intensely personal about a school shooting. Schools are places where people go to be safe, to make their lives better, and bringing in fear and hate and anger and sadness in such an extreme, violent way makes me feel so...violated.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and I'm hoping that what happened at NIU won't earn some horrifically cheesy title, like "The Valentine's Day Massacre", partly because that's already taken. I also hope that the school's name doesn't become synonymous with this tragedy, like Virgina Tech.

It's strange to me for something of this magnitude to be so near to me, and yet I still remain so far removed. On the one hand, I know people who attend NIU from high school and the speech circuit, I know people who teach there, work there, and I felt justifiably worried about them. But on the other hand, these people that I know are acquaintences. I don't have any of their phone numbers stored in my cell, I had to call second-parties to check up to make sure that my acquaintences were okay. Overall, I'm struggling between being overwhelmed with the absolte terror of it all-- imagining what it must be like to be a student there, and feeling like I should just go on with life as usual.

The latter is probably the best and most reasonable option, and the one I will probably employ. It's what you do after any major tragedy that doesn't personally affect you, right? But this one was so much closer, just personal enough that I can't help but to feel like I'm a part of it, in just a little way. I just can't help but to think back to a couple weekends ago when I was in Cole Hall, celebrating the success of my teammates and speech friends, laughing, joking, being alive; now juxtaposing that image of the lecture hall with terrified, wounded, dead peers. It's something that keeps threatening to overwhelm my usual placid emotional balance.

If you're the praying type, pray for NIU, pray for parents, students, friends, family. Pray for other schools, because this sort of thing seems to be catching.


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