I haven't updated in a while. I guess it's been a combination of no Internet and life settling down to something resembling normal. If normal is temperatures of around 105 degrees and constant power outages and continuing to get ripped off everywhere we go...
Last night I went outside to talk to a friend on the phone. When I got back, all of my friends were giving me strange looks, and kind of glancing at each other. One of them asked me if I was all right, and then didn't answer when I asked why they would possibly be asking me that (I had been talking to an Indian friend who's giving me his computer for a month). It wasn't until about 45 minutes later that I went online and heard about what happened in Binghamton. Apparently they had heard while I was outside and thought I was getting a call from someone at home.
I think what really made it hit home for me was looking at the news pictures of the Civic Association building where the shootings occurred. OK, anything happening in Binghamton is bad enough, but I parked in that parking lot every week for my violin lesson in high school. My violin teacher lives right across the street. And sometimes I go to Trinity church right next door in the other direction. This wasn't just something that happened somewhere that I was kind of familiar with, but in an area that I've driven and spent time in quite regularly since I was a teenager. In a way, the events of yesterday hit me harder than 9/11 did. Maybe because I'm older and can realize what it means better, but also simply because it was so close to home.
Everyone I know is okay (I called my mom and made her stay on the phone until she had found one of her friends--since he goes to Trinity and he was the one person I could imagine being in the area). But that doesn't really make it a lot better. I keep thinking about everyone who was killed or injured and wishing I could do something besides pray for them, which doesn't seem to be quite helpful enough. I wish I was home, although it's not like I would be doing anything more there than I am here. It made me want to tell everyone I know that I love them--that they are important to me--just in case I don't see them again. Which is silly.
I think what also hit me was the fact that I'm in India, which everyone told me would be more dangerous than home. Everyone, from my father to my advisor at Oberlin, told me that I should reconsider going to India after the bombings in Mumbai in November. And yet, I've ended up feeling safer here than many cities in the US. And look, I could have stayed home in Vestal and been more likely to be in danger. I don't if that should just persuade me that nowhere is safe and turn me into a huge pessimist, or if I should instead find some perverse comfort in the idea. I guess people are just people--which is what I kept trying to tell my dad before I left. Some people do awful things, for whatever reason. Most people, whether it be in Hyderabad or Vestal, are just people--we all have our issues, our strengths, and our weaknesses, but that doesn't make the people in any one place any more or less likely to snap.
So I guess the moral of the story is to be careful wherever you go (and maybe the US can take advantage of some of the security measures India has implemented in public places). And to put your trust in people instead of countries or states, who do, for the most part, continue to care for and love each other. Which is cheesy, but I can't help feeling a little bit true.