April 16, 2008

I’ve received a lot of posts and missives from a lot of different people today both in and out of Blacksburg. Thank you for those.

I remember received a flyer over the weekend that was called “Dealing with the Anniversary.” One of the things that the flyer said was that people would be more inclined to reach out to and reconnect with those they experienced the traumatic event together with. I certainly agree that I’ve witnessed and felt that impulse for sure, but what the flyer forgot to mention was the gravity of “will feel compelled to say something important.” I remember feeling something similar this time last year as well.

My heart aches.

It aches because I am not in Blacksburg today. I had to leave the day after our show closed. (I’ll tell you how that went some other time.)

As I sit here writing this, I’m listening to the commemoration ceremony that happened earlier today, and I’m waiting for the candlelight ceremony to begin.

I believe that Gov. Kaine really said it very well when he suggested that the best way that we can carry forth is to remember that each and every one of the fallen were living amazing, promising, mission-filled lives. When you look at their bios, it really is quite striking. In speaking with Steve Estrada, the man who was saddled with a great deal of the responsibility of receiving, cataloging, and archiving the amazing amount of material that was sent into Squires Student Center, I remember he told me that one letter within all of those thousands of banners, teddy bears, and other random objects had really stuck out to him. It was from a student at Christiansburg High School. Steve said that this young girl’s letter was very poorly written. But it was also clear and to the point. She said that she had never been a good student and had never really let herself dream of going to college. After the shootings, when she looked at the list of the fallen and their bios, she said that it made her want to try harder.

Makes me want to try harder too.

So, now the candlelight vigil is in full swing, and it looks absolutely beautiful. Looks like the stars have fallen and are hovering a few feet off the ground. I sure do wish I could be there.

I guess I’m sort of out of things to say, so I’ll leave you with this. For our show over the weekend, we ended up having a couple of acts drop out at the last minute, so I jumped in and made up a a performance for myself. I took a piece of writing that I had done last year during the weeks following April 16 and turned it into my love song to Blacksburg (particularly since I’m not so into some of that Hokie Nation stuff). I’m pasting it for you here below.

Love to you all.

Shannon

remember when: a love song

remember when you packed up your dreams
and your broken heart

put them all in your little, red volkswagon fox
at the age of 23
and arrived in Blacksburg
on a sweltering august day
everyone else was arriving because they were going to school
but you’d been out of school for a year
and you were just looking for something different
so you hopped from job to job for a while
your Foxridge apartment felt like you were living in the lap of luxury
even though you were “on a budget”
that involved a $50 line of credit
and a lot of frozen burritos
but you were living on your own terms

on a january night you drove up to pandapas pond with a boy
snuck in when you shouldn’t have
you couldn’t believe you were capable of breaking the rules like that
you crunched across the snow
stood there and watched shooting stars
and he stood behind you and put his head on your shoulder so that he could see the world from your perspective
but then that’s all that happened so you drove him home *sigh*

saturdays and wednesdays at the farmer’s market
and the first time you discovered
“basil? this is basil? how can this marvelous thing be the same as
that pale, dry, dusty stuff in my cabinet?”
and how you could stand and stare at those wooden bowls for hours,
run your hands over them and wish that one day you would have enough money to buy one

when you went to work at the YMCA
and you went to your first celebration at the community gardens back behind the cemetery
you thought what a bizarre place to have a garden
but then there was the tomato tasting contest
and the kids and the dogs
and the music
under that giant tent
and remember how on that soft, summer evening
you thought maybe this is what heaven is like

you started getting really into your job
and it led you to new places in town
and you realized
that there were children growing up in the shadows of this university
who cannot read on their grade level
and people living a mile away from your own house in trailers with giant, rotted holes in the floor

standing on the corner of life with erica (also known as the intersection of college and draper)
pouring your heart out and planning world domination in bollo’s over thousands of cups of coffee
Henderson
lawn concerts
the Huckleberry Trail
the Blacksburg public library
foreign language films at the lyric
no Walmart in Blacksburg!
and a spanikopita from Souvlaki is the fastest fast food there ever was if you tell them to throw it in a bag cold, thank you, I’ll warm it up later

after 5 years, you felt like you’d done
all the good you could do and given all you could give through the Y
so you took a giant leap and left,
went back to school to get your master’s
how excited you were to become a student again
but you were secretly scared that you couldn’t do it
and how desperately you didn’t want to have to go to football games

three years later, on the night of sunday, april 15, 2007
you wrapped up your final project on campus
and you were just so proud
you were done
nothing left to do but write the report
you walked through squires and it was buzzing with the strangest
kind of energy
and you were buzzing with that energy too
and so you took off running away
running like you haven’t done since you were a child
how you ran and ran
all the way to your car
felt like you could have run all the way to Floyd county
and you didn’t know what exactly you were running from or toward
but sometimes since then you’ve wished that you had kept on running

remember it snowed on that april morning so you decided not to go hiking to celebrate the completion of your final project
you went to gillie’s with megan and had a 122 special and it was there that the world came to a sudden
and screeching halt

….

remember when
“it’s good to see you”
didn’t mean
“i’m glad you’re alive”

remember when
you went into a place
and didn’t think
how quickly could i get out of here?

remember when
a siren
didn’t make you
want to crawl out of your skin

remember when
you felt like
you were
the only one who was having a bad day

remember when someone rang the bells at the church
32 times
and you stood on the porch
and could not cry because the sky was too beautiful

remember when
our little town
felt like
our little secret

remember when
leaving our little town
felt like
the right thing to do

remember when
you knew exactly
what you needed
to do in the next day

because you had a to do list
and it didn’t include
cry, pray, call your mom 3 times
and freeze up while crossing main street

remember who
remember what
when
remember when
remember

One Comment

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  1. I know I’m almost a year late for this one, but it’s coming up again, isn’t it? Will was about 2 weeks old on 4/16/2007, and we were living in Blacksburg but it killed me to not be able to get out and be part of the community that day.Last year we made it to the vigil, and it was beautiful. The community did a beautiful job with it. And, like most, I was never prouder to be a Hokie than in watching the students react.

    Like

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