Emergency Contact / A bullet at our front door
There are events that divide our lives, into befores and afters.
I think we all can agree that March of 2020 marks a collective time wherein we all have a picture of a distinctly different before and after. Then again, with the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. And then again, on January 6th. Maybe I am just speaking for residents of the United States with this shift. But on all of these occasions, there is a seismic shift.
I don’t feel like I have gotten desensitized to mass shootings, but I have. I remember the first one that felt really real to me: the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. I was a high school sophomore. It felt like the first time there was ever a mass shooting (this is from my high school sheltered vantage point). I cried on the couch for weeks. I was scared to go back to school. Rumors of metal detectors went wild. But at the same time, the feeling of “that could never happen here” also felt real. Like we were protected and safe and that violence was for other places. I took bodily safety for granted. I know. I know I shouldn’t want to go back to taking it for granted, but I do.
On Saturday morning, when I heard about the news, I cried. I cried out of desperation. I cried out of sadness for the families who lost their loved ones. I cried for the desperation and delusion that someone could feel to inspire this sort of action. It highlighted the ever-increasing feeling that we are just living in totally different realities. The same question came again into my head - why do we still have guns around? I questioned it in high school. I am questioning it now.
Sometimes, I just want to run away. And this is one of those times. After reading about the first shooting of the weekend, we left the house to spend our weekend at various urgent care centers around the bay area for both M and my mom. Both sick with non-covid ailments. Both on antibiotics. Both will heal this time.
It was then I noticed, as we were leaving, a small dot on the outside of our front door.
The exact moment it happened was at 11:03 pm on Wednesday night. I obsessively reviewed the camera footage slowly over the past week. I texted my neighbor who confirmed that there were about 4 or 5 gunshots outside our house that night. No one really understands how it happened. The angle is weird. That doesn’t make it any less scary.
There are events in your life that divide it into clear befores and afters. These events happen on a spectrum. Everyday things happen, choices are made, we change. What does it take to be so transformative that time seems to alter, and the fabric of understanding the world shifts in ways that we cannot mend?
Sunday night, after the second mass shooting of the weekend, I had a conversation with someone about guns. I asked why they didnt just take guns away? Why do we need them? “It is in the constitution. It is our right. You cannot take it away. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
Have you heard that argument before? It has two clear sides (guns kill people or people kill people) - but I would like to offer a complication: people with guns kill people. The unfortunate reality, is that the people kill people argument is based on the idea humans have control over themselves. That we are logical beings who make rational choices. But are we really?
It seems to me, and I have said this before, that I am an emotional being who rationalizes decisions based on genetic and current envoiriomental conditions. I am a person who gets 8 hours of sleep, has access to quality food and hope for the future. I still would not trust me with a gun. Even if I was trained.
Sunday night, my mother told me, while she was laying in bed, body-aching, lungs weezing, that today, she used me has her emergency contact for the first time. The transfer of generational authority was embedded deep within her focus. She is getting older. That she trusted me with her life. An honor, complicated by the actual work it takes to take care of someone else. Continuing with, “if something happens to me, I want you to know how much I love you.”
She closed her eyes, and took a deep breathe in and out and muttered, “I’m so proud of you.”
“I know,” I said. I am the lucky one. “I love you, too.”
This week, I am talking to Gabrielle Stanley Blair. She is the founder of the blog Design Mom, bestselling author, and founder of Alt Summit. I have been a fan of hers for years (she used to live up the hill from us) and she is the favorite sister of my friend Jorden Ferney. Gabrielle recently published a newsletter about how her conservative mom raised lots of liberal feminists. It showed up in my apple newsfeed the following day.
Gabrielle is a total inspiration and absolutely a joy to listen to. Her insights on trends before they happen are crazy uncanny. Design Mom is credited for launching dozens of brands and services that you’ve come to know and love. (Watch Fixer-Upper? Yes, Joanna Gaines was discovered on Design Mom!). Just saying. She knows what is up.
I personally love how honest she is with her views - and thoughtful! Check out her blog here.