I didn’t go to Virginia Tech, but I still consider myself part Hokie.
Even though we lived 20 miles away, Blacksburg felt like our backyard. Girl Scout day camps, 4-H trips, school field trips, summer plays, those were all in Blacksburg. I went to church there, was confirmed there, dated a guy or two from there, and was (best of all) married there.
So no, I didn’t go to school there (although I did take one online meteorology class) but I cheered on Michael Vick and have been to Frank Beamer’s house when I was about 3 (he owned a couch like Peewee Herman). The decision to go there was nothing personal, and despite my parents’ belief had nothing to do with being too close to home but more the fact I wanted to study liberal arts and Tech was more, well, technical.
So I wasn’t there on April 16, 2007. I was in Williamsburg, just out of my French class and eating lunch with my friend whose fiance went there. My sister worked there. Almost everyone from my high school who went to college went there. My friends’ parents worked there. My friends from church were there. My life from home was pretty much there.
And so while I was hundreds of miles away, my heart was there. And yesterday was no different.
Somethings cannot be verbalized, the way your heart leaps up in your throat when you see suddenly see the words “shooting” and “Virginia Tech” all over the internet. And even though I wasn’t there, I felt like I was having flashbacks. The feeling of powerless. Of not knowing. Not knowing anything except that with almost everyone you’ve ever known being at Tech, that you will know someone who died. Of knowing no one around you can quite understand.
Of not being able to understand yourself.