...and it's for my city.
((this tragedy isn't truly mine. everything should be centered around the victims, their families and friends; and the close knit LGBT community reeling today. that's why i'm writing this on my private blog. i need to process, i need a safe place to sort myself out away from public eye. but i know it's incredibly inappropriate to claim this has hurt me personally when others have had the fabric of their hearts torn in shreds.))
what? it feels surreal. Orlando isn't even a real city. i've often thought whoever taglined it "the city beautiful" apparently never traveled to cities like Washington DC, Savannah GA, Cardiff Wales or Vancouver BC, CA. it's always seemed like the kid brother who can't keep up with the big kids. trying to be cool with his untied shoelaces and popsicle-stained mouth, running after the vans-wearing teenagers on their skateboards. like "we've got the basketball team Shaq played for once!" "we're kinda close to Disney World, and there's a fountain in our lake. with swans!" "Our women's soccer team is brand-baby-new but hey--a World Cup champ calls it home!"
but now my little ugly city is running with the big boys and it's not fun at all. we're on the map for a horrific act of violence that has people in New York City weeping for friends they lost. the largest mass shooting in recent history. i think is what they're calling it. because that's what humans do when they grieve. put things in boxes with labels to keep our sanity inside and chaos outside.
now let's be honest: i've never really claimed this city until today. i spent the first 8 years of my life close enough to downtown that Lake Eola was the playground date of choice. but when we moved to the country, i embraced it whole-heartedly. at first i couldn't sleep: no gunshots, no sirens, no flashing lights or yelling neighbors? what if the bad guys were super sneaky and quiet out here? what if they broke in and nobody heard or came to help? eventually i realized people didn't steal the hose from your lawn or break into your house just for fun out here. i've been privileged to travel all over N America and the world; when people ask where i'm from in florida i usually say a small town you've never heard of. unless i think you'll never come to the states and find me, then i'll name my small town. because i'm proud of it. i love my community. i get annoyed when i'm traveling with people and they say Orlando (what? eww no i don't live there).
but today i woke up, and there on my tv was a swat team exiting a building i instantly knew. there was the next door dunkin donuts i used to swing by at 9:08 pm 2-3 nights a week after ballet class in my teens, surrounded by flashing lights. there were bleeding, hurting people being carried out of first gay club my brother visited. it took a few seconds of panic to remember he's moved out of state, he's safe. otherwise i would have been frantically looking for a text saying "i'm fine, we were at Ibar or Backbooth instead, don't worry." i thought of other names, faces; and hoped they were ok. i wondered if any of his old buddies were part of the carnage, or in the hospital. i worried if he was emotionally ok all those states away.
i imagined the chaos inside that hospital, the very one i'm about to start my own training in. the nurses and techs who were probably still working long after their 12 hellacious hours were over, the surgeons who probably hadn't had a break yet. i could imagine the less sick people in ER for a normal saturday injury seeing things we normally shield from them. because even in a level I center that trains for this, with 53 traumas, who has time to pull a curtain?
i tried not to imagine what the aftermath of 50 dead would be like. but i couldn't stop wondering how difficult it must be to find evidence and document deaths on such a scale. having the necessary detachment interrupted by all those phones ringing over and over and over as a constant reminder of the lives behind the crime scene.
i feel like i should have more words. profound words, words to offer hope or give insight into the wreckage humanity holds within that makes us capable of such things. but i don't. i only know that i owned this city today. it's not Paris or VA tech; it's home. i can give blood, i can be there for friends affected more personally. i can find something to do with these hands and this heart. i can be a voice--let's not use this as a battering ram. muslims need to feel loved, welcomed, safe. the lgbt community needs to feel embraced, needs us weeping next to them. the only sermon anyone needs to hear is the sermon of messy, honest, costly, sticking-around-when-the-media-gets bored and the people forget love. the God who became man and climbed into our messy hurting world love. Jesus chose the weak, the vulnerable, the wounded as his homeboys. His anger surfaced towards the people who through the first stone--don't be that guy.
here are some words from people better gifted than i:
this relatable one
this personal insight