The summer I turned 14, we moved to a teeny spot on I-5 in Washington State called Smokey Point. It was a gorgeous spot just north of Seattle, between Marysville and Arlington and a short distance from Twin Lakes. I have fantastic memories of Smokey Point and those lakes - there was a fruit stand across the highway, bike trails down to the lakes that were lined with wild blackberries, and no matter what people tell you about the Pacific Northwest, people - the weather there during the summer is perfect. It's beautiful.
We thought nothing of walking a couple of miles to the general store up in Lakewood, or across I-5 to the fruit stand or the burger shack across the road. We walked all over everywhere back then (although now looking back I wonder what the hell our parents were thinking- that was smack dab during the middle of when the Green River killler spree!) and I often wonder if our generation was the last one to truly enjoy a "leave it to beaver" childhood.
Today - a kid the same age I was when I lived in Smokey Point walked into a high school that many of my friends went to school at just up at road in Marysville and shot 6 kids, killing 2 of them and himself. Seeing the school on TV just blew my mind. I remember going to the Strawberry Festival in Marysville. My first ever track meet was in Marysville. I had been in that school when I went up there to see my friends graduate from Washington State. I played on my first video game at Marysville-Pilchuk High.
I have the hardest time comprehending how a kid from Marysville could do something like this. I still think of that area like Mayberry or Walton's Mountain - how can someone there feel like this is their only choice? I was 14 that first year I went to school up there in Lakewood, and honestly I felt pretty lonely that fall - all new people I didn't know all that well, since I had attended 4 different schools the year before, they weren't sure which classes to put me in (and it turned out I was in the wrong Math class for sure - luckily mom got me switched out of there after the first 6 weeks). But it did not occur to me that things were that bad. I was living with my family in a travel trailer, and I think back on it now and it might have seen like hard times looking from the outside, but for us it was an adventure.
He was 14. I was 14. I understand it was nearly 30 years apart, but how did things turn out so sad? So desperate?
I don't have an answer - just an overwhelming sadness. One of the sweetest people I met that year - when we were 14 - still lives in the area, and her son attends school near there. They are just reeling tonight. Would you join me tonight saying a prayer for everyone in the area? Somewhere there are parents tonight lost and grieving tonight - and kids trying to make sense of what happened. They should be enjoying homecoming tonight - watching the class homecoming floats during halftime, fiddling with their homecoming mums and looking forward to the homecoming dance. Not sitting at someone's house wondering how this happened?
Not that any of us knows.
(I am going to try to blog again tomorrow to update you all on my treatment and how I'm doing. I just had to get this out first)