Leaving Orlando in the Midst of Crisis

Departure date: Thursday, June 16, 2016

It’s weird to leave Orlando right now. I feel torn, but also somewhat relieved. It has been surreal.

An Orange County official said that we have been preparing for this our whole life. No. No, we haven’t; I hope we haven’t been.

If you could be prepared and still 49 murdered, that is not very prepared. Prepared?

Senator Rubio said it was Orlando’s “turn”. I have hope that that is not the mentality of other American cities and townships. Just waiting for their “turn” in tragedy. If it was Orlando’s turn, then it means this is the reality we have accepted. Mass shootings as an acceptable norm. Accepted? Expected? And sadly, I was shocked that I was suprised. Of course this could happen in Orlando. This could happen anywhere.

IMG_4108

Orlandoans gather on the lawn of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando a few nights after the Pulse shooting. Even as we were leaving Orlando, we were already seeing how everyone was rallying together, holding onto love, and rejecting fear.

Last week a Now This video of Orlando’s Fleet farming went viral. Such praise for the city and it’s young, ingenious citizens. I was and am so proud of my friends.

Then Friday evening, a rising musical star from the Voice was murdered at a place I know and have been. The Plaza Live. My friends went to a pop-up church there for a few years. It’s parking lot hosted the Corridor Project a few years back. I know it and now the world knows it in a very tainted way. Murder.

Sunday morning I hopped out of the shower and Nathan told me 20 people were dead and 53 injured at a gay night club in Orlando. Which one? Which one? Which one? Over and over again. Panic setting in. My friends go to gay clubs all of the time. Pulse. Revolution. Parliament House. Pulse. It was Pulse. I was having trouble getting breath. Breathe. Breathe. They don’t seem to go to Pulse. It was Latin Night. Most of my friends are not Latinos. Some are. Check in. Check in. Check in. Why aren’t they all checking in?

But they all did. Over the next 12 hours. All of them did. All of my derby girls and guys. All of our friends in the arts and acting community. My friends are safe. But we are not okay. We are safe. But not okay.

A former derbymate is a bartender at Pulse. Her friends are dead. A former derbymate’s brother was part of the SWAT team and his helmet was the one that was shot. It saved his life. Some of our friends first met at Pulse. It is right down the street from the hospital that I went to for treatment. I’ve driven by Pulse hundreds of times. I’ve never been in. It’s not my scene, but it is a mile from our first house. It is 3 miles from our current house.

It is surreal. But of course it is very real.

IMG_4110

Many gather on the lawn of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando for a vigil a few nights after the Pulse shooting.

And so we’re going to be gone during much of the mourning and aftermath. We’re bring love from Orlando on the road, but it is a strange thing not to be there. It is a hard way to start a trip. But here we are.

We’re excited to meet people all of the states and the world. We’re excited to see things from a different perspective. We’re looking forward to adventures, good food, travel days (good and bad), beautiful views, and people.

This is our first major trip since 2013 when we were in Paris for nearly a month. The past few summers we’ve had other adventures to attend to like chemo and recovering from surgery. So yeah, we’re excited to get out and do something we’ve never done before. I’ve never been to any of the places on our list: Rockford (lllinois), Madison, San Francisco, Busan (South Korea), Seoul, Kathmandu (Nepal), Doha (Qatar) for a 2 hour layover, London, Oslo, Trondheim (Norway), Helsinki, Jyväskylä (Finland), and Iceland.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer addresses a crowd gathered at the Downtown Orlando Info Center a few days after the Pulse shooting. A group of local businesses produced memorial t-shirts and screen prints as a fundraiser for the OneOrlando fund.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer addresses a crowd gathered at the Downtown Orlando Info Center a few days after the Pulse shooting. A group of local businesses produced memorial t-shirts and screen prints as a fundraiser for the OneOrlando fund. Nate was involved in the creation of the Orlando neighborhoods map behind the mayor.

3 thoughts on “Leaving Orlando in the Midst of Crisis

  1. Annie

    Praying for your time with friends now and your big trip to this side of the world, and all the rest!

Comments are closed.