I’m not a victim of gun violence any more or less than we all are.
But Boulder marks the sixth shooting that’s happened within fifty miles of where I grew up and where I currently live.
Of course, there was Columbine. The event that made Colorado a lightning rod for gun violence (13 deaths + 2).
And then there was a shooting at my middle school. Not while I was there. But on grounds I frequented. A 7th grade math teacher tackled the gunman. He taught many of us pre-algebra (No deaths, substantial injuries).
And then the Dark Knight shooting, the theater is still operational. It’s ten minutes from my house (12 deaths).
Perhaps even closer to home, and a tragedy that isn’t mine to talk about, a shooting happened at Arapahoe HS, which was deeply personal for my family in ways I won’t expound on (Two deaths. Deeply personal).
And then when I just moved back from NYC to Colorado, our neighborhood was placed on lockdown because of a, believe it or not, an active shooter at a grocery store mere minutes away from my home (no deaths).
So Boulder marks six. (10 deaths). Six shootings within an hour of me. Most were within minutes of me.
37. Thirty seven. Thirty. Seven.
Thirty seven people who were as important and all consuming as my own son is to me. In the annals of history, their rich lives, their belly laughs, their apologies, or their college educations—these are all reduced to a statistic. One of.
They are one of.
So what do you do in the face of a multifaceted problem that too few people are willing to solve?
Do you just… go back to King Soopers? Do you just scan your lettuce at the self checkout and wonder whose blood was spilt here? Do you think about it every time you get out of the car? Do you…
Cry without wanting to talk about it?
Reach for tired words, uttered wearily?
Do you give voice to an experience you’ve already processed five times already?
Just sighs. Quiet sighs. Grim acceptance. Wary defeat.
Text messages—short ones with heartbreak emojis. Instagram posts that expire in 24 hours. Hashtags.
We do what we can. We all do. Some of us do. It’s not actually enough.
It’s not actually enough.