Friday, July 20, 2012
Tragedy in My Hometown
I don't have much to say about shootings at the Century 16 theater. You can follow the news yourself. I've had 9News on all day.
For me, it's too shocking and horrific. I don't feel especially eloquent right now.
Still, I thought I'd let everyone know that my family and I are safe. And especially to those reading this who I don't know personally, you might know I'm from Aurora, Colorado. It says so right over there to the right. But Aurora is a big place, east of Denver proper, spreading out into the plains of Colorado. We're urban and suburban, even rural. So the chances of a tragedy of this magnitude happening in Aurora and still hitting close to home are pretty low.
The apartment where the shooter lived is only a mile from my house. Right now the police still haven't entered the place. It's booby-trapped. Authorities have evacuated a radius of a couple of blocks. That doesn't reach my place, but it's literally close to home.
These events also hit home more figuratively. This movie theater is located at the Aurora Town Center, which was simply the Aurora Mall when I was younger. This particular theater wasn't built then; it's a relatively new construct, maybe ten or twelve years old. But I know what it's like to be young and hang out and see movies at that mall. Today, it's the location most of my students go to see their movies. I haven't been there in years. The last time I was there was to see The Incredibles when it came out, before a newer theater was built nearer where I live. I left my wallet in my seat after the movie and didn't notice until later that night. I went back the next day, and they had it waiting for me in the manager's office. Nothing was missing.
I don't know exactly why, but that incident keeps running through my thoughts today.
We don't know much at this point about the names of the victims, but as far as I know none of my own students were at this theater last night. But some of their friends were.
What's the closest to home is that two young women in my ward at church were there. One of them was injured but is okay and has already returned home. These girls are my oldest daughter's age. Had our lives been slightly different, my daughter might have been with these girls last night. I have a hard time trying to imagine what the injured girl's parents have gone through today. As a father, it scares me.
UPDATE: The young woman I speak of was interviewed by MSNBC. She is quite more articulate than I would be. Kinda surreal really.
I love this town. I wasn't born here, but I grew up here, came of age here, have made my home here. It's economically, racially, and socially diverse. I can't say how different Aurora is from other metropolitan cities. But it's Colorado. Varied geography, best climate on earth. It gets cold, but not too cold. It gets hot, but not too hot (despite this summer's constant hover near 100 degrees).
And my son will grow up here.
My wife says that for the rest of our lives, when we tell people we live in Aurora, people will ask us about the shootings at the Century 16. Forever a sad reflection on such a great place.
One more UPDATE: If you're interested in Aurora, this article describes our town in a way I wish I could have the other day.