I’ve been living in Colorado for ten months.
I would consider this to be the beginning of the best parts of moving to a new location.
I am starting to learn my way around the city, but I’m still new enough to see the wonder and excitement of being here. There’s still many corners to explore, but I’m not entirely reliant on my gps to get me there. I’m settling into friendships that are no longer hard work to maintain, but rather bring the energy of comfort.
I remember when Iowa City got to this point – when I started wanting my friends to come visit so I could show them around instead of awkwardly getting turned around with them. It’s the time when instead of being a drifter, I start to be local. As odd as this sounds, I had That Moment with Glenna this week for a rather somber occasion.
We were only about 8 years old during the Columbine massacre in 1999, but the effects of that radiated throughout our lives. As our friends get their teaching licenses and have their own classrooms of children, we hear the stories of the drills they go through to keep their students safe in the event of another Sandy Hook.
When I first moved out here, I lived in Littleton – only about three miles from the high school. I first went to the memorial alone, weeks after arriving, and still in awe of the mountain range before me. “How,” I wondered, “could anyone do something so horrible with something so beautiful beside them every day?”
Shows my naivety.
I brought Glenna to the memorial this week. We walked around slowly, reading the tributes and the memories. There were some dying flowers contrasting the colorful autumnal changes. The sun was shining in the late afternoon and a warm breeze danced around the quiet, sunken space. We walked to the top of the hill, pondering the students from the school. Where are they now, and what have they done with their lives? What about generations to follow – what is going to university like and realizing that the entire world knows about your high school?
As we walked back down, Glenna took hold of my hand. We stepped in silence, slipping away from the memorial and past the children’s playground on our way to the car.
It was my moment of showing my friend something important that brought me to my next stage. This is becoming home. And moments of sadness and remembrance are a part of that.
I may have no personal connection to Columbine, but it is now woven into my story just a little tighter. And even just for a day, looking out over the mountains in the shadow of the high school, I took a breath and was thankful to be surrounded by home.