17 04 2007

yesterday woke up cold and pulled down beneath the weight of dense new snow, a tree across the driveway, no escape for anyone, and that was before i heard, before i knew; plodding to campus this morning through wet slush and new flakes falling, slick surfaces getting slicker still, everything slowed down and seeming sheer with danger, i kept passing all these branches torn-down, ripped limbs pale yellow in a world otherwise white and grey, sawdust trails of what had to be destroyed, their ends thick with buds that won’t ever bloom.

the tearing down of branches after unexpected bouts of winter-weight, like the term “ice storm,” is always going to conjure one thing first for me (& some of you): blacksburg, all those years ago, the trees that had always towered so stable and solid and majestic torn apart, some clean in half, by something nobody saw coming that overnight changed the landscape of that home of ours forever. i don’t have to do anything poetic to those metaphors; they speak for themselves. they have to, because there’s nothing to say, but they have to because words are all i have, even when they’re worthless.

jules_11 is ok, paulie’s ok–at least as “ok” as anybody’s going to be who wasn’t close enough to be fired-upon but is still way too close to be anything but hurt and frightened and changed. students’ names haven’t yet all been released, so none of my peeps teaching there know yet if they’re their students. from reedrover the names so far; from vvalkyri the first tale of heroism. would you have done it, stood in the doorway blocking the way? i’d like to think i would have. thing i can’t shake, though, is knowing at tech i wouldn’t’ve had to. for all the grief i gave them, and all the grief i wanted to but held my tongue about, in every class i ever taught, i can tell you which of my cadets would have pushed me out of the way & blocked that classroom doorway in my place.

spending all day yesterday online or on the phone, talking, listening, repeating assurances and inquiries and shock-horror was the best i could do with it, watching the snow keep piling; i feel too far away here, although of course there’s nothing i could do or could have done (or could i? he was an english major. if i’d been there maybe he’d have been one of mine). but it’s my home. the VT stamped into the leather wallet i still carry has worn almost all the way away–you have to tilt it into the light to see it’s there at all, but i know it’s there. that’s my home, and when everybody there is hurt and scared and wronged, i can’t help but feel like it’s where i need to be.

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16 responses

17 04 2007
pictsy

Yeah, whatever the real military might be like, those cadets all seemed to have honor and a hero streak.

17 04 2007
griptiger

*Hugs*
I know that doesn’t mean much, but just know that I’d give you one if I could right now.

17 04 2007
west_wind

Bob and I feel the same way. There’s just this compelling urge to be there, to comfort and be comforted and just be. I hope you got the chance to watch the convocation on tv or at least read a copy of Nikki Giovanni’s speech online. There’s nothing we could do, but I agree, it’s hard to be here when we need to be there.

17 04 2007
reedrover

Do you have a source for the speech? I’d be interested in reading what she had to say…

17 04 2007
west_wind

I’ve been searching online for it but currently to no avail. I’ll post it to you as soon as I find it or a link.

17 04 2007
reedrover

Thanks!

17 04 2007
Anonymous

Convocation
My department should be putting it online in a day or two. If you want more info, I can be reached at my nickname @ vt.edu
-Candle

17 04 2007
west_wind

Re: Convocation
Thanks so much. I’ll keep looking for it in the next couple days.

18 04 2007
18 04 2007
reedrover

Re: Convocation
Or off of the VT site.
http://www.vt.edu/tragedy/giovanni_transcript.php

17 04 2007
robotapocalypse

The Convocation. Nikki Giovanni speaks at 50:05 on the timestamp.

18 04 2007
froggygal

I feel like I should be there, too. Maybe it’s just the need to be with people like me who can understand how much this really hurts. Here it’s just a news story that people aren’t really connected to…

18 04 2007
donnickcottage

I wish I could say something that’d matter. Be well lass.

18 04 2007
runemystic

I’v been thinkin about you and Chris a lot the last few days. I hope you’re doing ok.
*HUG*
Love
Wave

18 04 2007
ccangels

I’m sorry you’re so far from where you feel you need to be – and at the least where you’d likely like to be – with your VT family. I know that when my friends, students, or family have faced such tragedy, it’s hard to be so far away. Things like these never leave us, like your VT stamped wallet, we may have to tilt the memories in the light, but they’re always there.

18 04 2007
pooh_gal

would I?
You ask a really important question here – one that has been bothering me since I heard about it. I don’t know that I would have stood in the doorway. I don’t know what I would have done. listening to that cell phone video with those shots popping off, knowing in that retrospective position that only after the fact awareness can give you that each of those shots means a student was being killed right next to other students – I can’t imagine what my response would be. It makes me feel cowardly, and all the more sad for realizing this about myself.

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