I’m going to take a moment to talk about something serious today. My apologies to those who are new readers – I promise this is not normally a “serious” blog. The next post will focus on counting down to my baby’s first birthday (can’t believe a year went by so fast . . . oh great, now I have Rent stuck in my head). Anyway, yesterday was a weird day and I need to comment on the events that unfolded.
Yesterday started out like any other Friday . . . well, any other Friday when Obama comes to town. Obama has visited LA some 14 times during his term. Each time he visits, I’m terrified that traffic will be a nightmare. Though I think the city may have learned a thing or two since the first couple times he visited. The first time he ever visited, traffic was a nightmare! I’m talking one of the worst traffic days EVER – which is saying something for a city that has been deemed the most congested city in America. After those first couple visits, residents have been given notice ahead of time of the general time and area (and this time we even knew specific streets) where he will be so that people can plan to avoid those areas as necessary. Yesterday, his visit was literally walking distance from my office. Fortunately, they were smart enough (this time) to not shut down streets during rush hour.
Just before lunch, I heard sirens and helicopters and assumed it was due to Obama. Then I heard the news that there had been a shooting at Santa Monica College, which is just on the other side of the freeway from my office. Obviously, as the details were unfolding, the information that those of us in the area received was not always accurate. At one point we were told that the gunman was on the loose and shooting at cars on Olympic Blvd (which is even closer to my office). The number of people dead from the shooting fluctuated up and down.
It turns out the shootings all happened along Pico, which, while further from my office, is still eerily close. It started with a massive house fire, where two people were killed. Then the gunman carjacked a lady and forced her to take him to Santa Monica College. Along the way, he shot at a bus and a bunch of other people. Once at Santa Monica College, he got into an altercation with the police and was ultimately shot and killed at the library where people were studying for finals. Five people, including the gunman, were killed.
Click here for a map of all the incidents.
I don’t drive on Pico every day, but I do drive it quite often. The theatre where I did “Chicago” and “Chorus Line” is literally around the corner from the house fire and between the house fire and the other incidents. I have a friend who lives near the shootings, who was out with her 4 year old trying to see Obama when everything went down. They quickly went home and stayed safe.
All I could think about as I listened to the odd soundtrack of helicopters and sirens was how I wanted to be with my baby. I didn’t want my baby with me, considering how close I was to all the action, but I wanted to go to her. It was such a bizarre day! Santa Monica is usually such a quiet, safe town.
I remember when I was doing my junior year abroad in Bristol, England. I took a class where we went into a community center and worked with underprivileged kids. One of the kids said to me, “I wouldn’t like to go to America. There’s too many guns.” At the time, it felt like a gross overgeneralization. But it also opened my eyes to how America is perceived in the rest of the world. Unfortunately, instead of proving that stereotype wrong, it seems in the years since, we have had more and more stories of gun violence. I’m not here to make a statement on guns or gun control or anything like that (at least not in this post). I just want to send out my thoughts to the universe – can we please stop shooting each other? For that matter, can we please stop being violent to each other? While we’re at it, can we please set aside any petty grievances and try to compromise when we disagree? I realize it may be a pipe dream, but gosh, it would be nice.