Tag Archives: ucsb

Paradise Lost

In the latest gun massacre to hit our country (these massacres happen so frequently that I can’t keep track of them all), a disturbed young man who felt rejected by the sorority girls at his college decided to do something awful about it.

This happened at my college. Where I was a sorority girl.

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15 years ago, my university was a uniquely beautiful and safe place. Nestled on the cliffs of the Central California coast, literally on the beach, wrapped in balmy weather rarely below 70 degrees, “mellow” was both the word used to describe the school and the motto we students took to heart. We were laid back because how could you get worked up about anything in such a place? Isla Vista, the beach town most of the students lived in, often felt like a cocoon – a haven protecting us from the real world we knew was waiting for us. The joke was rarely did students graduate in 4 years, because they never wanted to leave.

My sorority is next door to the sorority where the gunman took down several co-eds innocently walking to some fun destination. A destination they never arrived at. I lived there for two years, making lifelong friends I still see as often as I can. In those halls and those rooms, I became a confident person, because I made friends who had my back. Those friends were my friends not because of what I looked like, or what kind of car I drove. They were my friends because they were like me: nice, fun, curious, complicated people looking forward to the rest of their lives.

It breaks my heart to think of sorority sisters, walking along, having conversations that probably touched on both the superficial (what to wear to a TG) to the real (what kind of career to choose). Those conversations were suddenly silenced.

That is what my sorority sisters were to me first and foremost: friends I had important conversations with. Also, friends who made me laugh. I never laughed more than in that quad room, telling stories about the series of awful jobs I took senior year when funds were low. (Let’s just say that salsa in a certain Mexican restaurant was “recycled.”)

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A month ago, I took Darcy and the twins to Isla Vista. We visited my sorority, we ate burritos at Freebirds. We took pictures in front of my sorority symbol, a block from the massacre. I took my son back again, and we ate ice cream sandwiches and walked along the beach. I felt safe and sound.

The truth is, we are never safe and sound.

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