(Written on the 10 Year Anniversary of the Columbine Shooting Massacre, April 20th, 2009)

 
 
Woke up, took a shower. Maybe I ironed my clothes, but probably not. Made my way down from the 14th floor, out to my mom’s car. I rode in the front, my sister in the back. I played my mix tape, a combination of “The Barenaked Ladies” and “The New Radicals”, while my mother and sister listened to “The Tom Joyner Morning Show”. We made our way from Euclid, up the highway, and reached our destination of John F. Kennedy High School. My mom let us out in the easternmost driveway, next door to the fire station. I wasn’t in any particular type of mood that day, I just didn’t wanna go to school. So soon as my sister made her way inside and my mom turned around to head towards work, I hopped on the number 15 bus. We lived about a half hour away driving, but on the bus the trip home would take about 2 hours. I stopped at Dunkin Donuts, got a sausage, egg and cheese croissant sandwich and proceeded to wait for the number 34. About 10 minutes into the hour and 15 minute ride a pretty girl got on. She sat across from me and we struck up a conversation, much to my surprise. I forget her name, or even what she looked like, but I do remember sharing a piece of Big Red with her. We spoke for the entirety of her ride, she got off on Euclid and I still had another 30 minutes to go. I made my connection to the number 39, the entire time wondering if the cops were gonna finally see me and ask what I was doing out of school at such an early hour. But alas, I made the trip back home unharmed. I went back up to the 14th floor, mentally preparing myself for a day of junk food, Canadian TV and video games. As I cut the television on I found the same thing on every major channel. I assumed something had happened downtown and all the cameras were there to capture it. Then I noticed all the people running. Next came the S.W.A.T. team breaching a door. The newscasters weren’t able to make much sense of the event and neither was I. Was it a school? And if so, was it here? In Ohio at least? It took some time, but eventually they let on that it was a school, and that that school was in Columbine, Colorado. Shots were being fired, people continued to run for cover and the news was there to capture it all. They carried out bodies, dead or alive I couldn’t tell. One boy was able to bust out of a second story window and was carried to rescue. And then, almost as quickly as it started, it ended. Initially there was no confirmation as to how many gunmen there were, turns out there were two.

Students Evacuating Columbine High School. Daniel Rohrbough’s body is visible at the base of the stairs.

I wondered why. I still wonder why. I knew there needed to be an explanation for this or these events would get blown out of proportion quickly. In the coming days, weeks and months the shooter’s lives would be dissected and opened up to public scrutiny. Everyone had an answer, everyone drew their own conclusions. School systems across the country would begin to crack down on the most benign things. No more trench coats, rainy day or not. No more black eyeliner. And most especially (Trust me, I know first hand) no more off color remarks about death or suicide. The personal freedom and individual growth you’re expected do in high school was now only allowed to happen if you “fit” the mold. Fall in line or be treated as if you were a witch, to be burned at the stake for fear you were the next Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold. Good intentions, poor execution. The knee jerk reaction displayed by those in charge did nothing to stop the problems that spawn such terrible occurrences. There are still bullies, still classes and cliques that exclude folks who appear differently. Ten years ago today I saw something that I thought would change my life and the lives of those who followed. But, ten years later, I’m not so sure.

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