I managed to lose my phone this morning.
When I found it in my son’s school parking lot it had already been run over. The screen was crushed, and broken shards of glass threatened to slip from the case.
I was irritated, but consoled myself with, “Oh well, does anyone really need to get a hold of me today?” Sigh.
So I didn’t hear the breaking news from home until I caught something weird on Facebook in the middle of a writing break.
“A shooting at UCC? What the heck? What kind of moron…?”
And then I read the article. It was bad. It was really bad. Early reports suggested over 10 dead and 20 injured.
I felt ill.
This is my community. This is where I come from. My roots. There’s no way people I love get out of this unscathed.
I spent the rest of the day glued to the screen of my laptop. President Obama gave an address. I listened to every word. The Sherriff gave a news conference. I watched it. I jumped back and forth between twitter and facebook and google, desperate for news from home. And of course my phone was dead, crushed, not operable. So much for not needing it today.
The media keeps calling Roseburg a small town. And it is relatively speaking.
But here’s the thing. The community itself is spread out far and wide. Several small towns lay scattered around Roseburg, the hub of activity. And all of Douglas County is interconnected.
I grew up 30 minutes south of Roseburg. My cousins lived in the town next to me, but we went to separate high schools. They know people and I know people and eventually all of those people know each other. This same scenario plays out in all of these small towns. For better or worse, Douglas County owns the Kevin Bacon game.
Roseburg is at the center of all of that. It’s where we go shopping, visit the optometrist, and see the latest movies. It’s also where Umpqua Community College is.
There isn’t a public student in Douglas County who hasn’t had some dealings on the campus of UCC. Whether it be for choir concerts, school field trips, plays, performances, band competitions, dances, or athletic regional playoffs, the campus of UCC isn’t just a college. The term ‘community college’ is a very literal experience in Douglas County.
My first exposure to a live performance of Handel’s Messiah which left me in chills took place on that campus. I took a sign language class from a dynamic woman with Italian roots. I’ve waited nervously backstage to perform in Jacoby Auditorium. I’ve watched playoff games and screamed myself hoarse for my brothers in the UCC Gymnasium.
It’s been years since I’ve stepped foot on UCC campus. I’ve lived in three other states since leaving Oregon. But I have family and friends, people I love, who were affected by today’s events. They will never be the same.
And so I mourn with my entire community.