Ok- so this is Jaime, and I am posting this because I have to get it out, and this seems like an easy way. The narly shootings at VT that have turned the nation's eyes on us is nothing but eerie...ok, I guess it is more than that, but that is all I can arrive at-for now. When I went to college, everyone would ask where I was from, and when I'd say, "Blacksburg," everyone would say, "Huh?" "Do you know Roanoke?" I'd ask. "Huh?" Fine. "Southwest Virginia. I grew up in SW VA." "Is that in West Virginia?" they'd ask. I would walk away.
Our Stake President was in the building when everything went down (his office/classes are there), and my stepdad was in the building next door (in his office) in lock down for a good portion of the day, but those are the only people we directly know who were involved. But somehow, we all feel intimately connected. It's all we can talk about. Finn's soccer game was canceled, classes in nearby schools were canceled, there is a general quiet milling about the whole area, and it is odd.
My formative years were spent growing up in The BURG--growing up in Blacksburg really made me who I am. Small town rural life was what I grew up outwardly rebelling against, while inwardly it absorbed into my blood and made me long to return to that stillness after college. Not wanting to run into the high school drop-outs and ex-boyfriends every time I went into Kroger, I wanted to move back, but not "back." So we settled in Radford, 12 minutes from the The BURG. Up until we moved here, I had only been to Radford once, to take the SAT's, because even though it was only 12 minutes away, it was a world away. Blacksburg was a bubble--a community unto itself. There was no reason to leave.
Here are some reasons why something like this could happen anywhere, but The BURG:
1. Full of hippies, it is a community that teaches activism in the air it breathes, in the food it serves, in the land it harbors. It was the activist spirit of Blacksburg that taught me about activism. In high school I volunteered at the Women's Center at VT, went to Take Back the Night, sat in on the Environmental Club meetings at Tech, watched several demonstrations, and learned that when you want to live in a certain type of world, you have to work for that kind of world. I saw the Guerilla Girls when I was 13 for heavens sake--how awesome is that?
2. With nothing to do in The BURG, a favorite pastime was watching people try to parallel park in "the heart"-a small cobblestone circle in the middle of town on College Ave. The goal was to watch intently enough that the driver would get so self-conscious, they would abandon the space to the next unsuspecting soul.
3. Some children grow up riding the subway, playing in big parks, or wandering around buildings, museums, beaches, or other open spaces. Not me. I grew up playing on campus. VT was a veritable playground for teenagers. Weekends involved mom dropping me off at the Student Center, where activities would begin--and move to empty classrooms, the library (Remember Leigh Claire throwing books out the window she needed for her report because she didn't have her card), the tunnels behind Burruss, concerts everywhere from classrooms to auditoriums, ultimate frisbee on the drillfield...and on and on and on.
4. We thought when the Indigo Girls came to VT one year for a concert we had hit the bigtime, and no one ever that popular would grace campus again. Thank you for coming Emily and Amy.
5. We had a game, it was called, "Only in Blacksburg." As you walked around town at any time of the day or night you could cross the street without looking both ways and announce, "Only in Blacksburg." Now yes, looking back it wasn't the smartest game, but it gives you the idea.
And all this was within the past 15 years. It's not like I am ancient referring to the innocence of yesteryear. That is the beauty of the Burg. Growing its population, buildings, and businesses within the past few years have sadden me, that perhaps the "bubble of the burg" was disappearing. Now I fear, the bubble has popped for sure.
But what a place to learn who you are!!