People think of theme parks, waterslides and miniature golf when they think about Orlando. And it does have its fair share of those things, but it has another side, the small town—know your neighbors, worship together, and just generally be kind-type of town.
Orlando has so embraced the LBGT community that our town is hurting, all of us are hurting. I’ve never been inside Pulse nightclub, but either my husband or I pass it twice a day, every day when we make the rounds for his job. It is unimaginable that our city has now joined the growing list of mass death.
I remember walking around in a haze of sorrow for days after Columbine. I can tell you exactly where I was when the planes hit the towers. I was glued to my television when the bombs went off in Boston and I cried for those babies and brave adults at Sandy Hook.
It’s our turn now. My husband and I watched the news unfold, we identified landmarks and looked for people we knew. I called some friends to make sure that they were alright and I took phone calls and assured people that it was far from my home and everyone was okay.
We cried and we wondered why. And then we went to dinner in downtown Orlando. The restaurant was crowded—life went on. My fourteen year old daughter had tickets to the Oh Wonder concert at a club in downtown on Monday and we questioned whether we would take her if it wasn’t canceled. It was, eventually. She went to a crowded movie theater instead and had fun with her friends.
Life went back to normal. The news read the names of the people who died and we cried. There were vigils to attend and services to watch. Donations to give. But the people who did not know the victims went to work Monday morning. Life returned to normal and people went about their business. We’re sad and we’re angry—but we’re used to it.
The mass shooting club that Orlando joined on early Sunday morning is not exclusive. The list keeps growing. And the level of horror grows with it. This isn’t the “New Normal”—this is normal.
As Americans we persevere. We go on. We buck up. But when do we say enough is enough? This didn’t have to happen. When do we force honest non-politicized discussions about how to stop it? When do we stop accepting terror as normal?