I sat down at my desk for the first time today at noon. Jiggling my mouse didn’t wake up the system because, well, it hadn’t been turned on yet. It was a little odd.
This morning I woke up and got ready for my day. Ten minutes before our usual Tuesday departure time, my husband informed me we were driving in separately today, which made me suddenly ten minutes late. I scrambled to get everything in my gym bag – including a pair of black pants and a black top because I have a Samulnori performance tonight and need to wear concert attire – grabbed a frozen entree for lunch and rushed out the door, almost forgetting to lock it on my way out.
Our car has been in the shop the past several days while they fixed a more or less minor electrical problem (covered by the warranty). However in fixing the electrical problem, they apparently managed to reset the car’s clock, which meant that as I was not-speeding-but-going-as-fast-as-allowed-otherwise my way into campus, I had no idea what time it really was. When you’re trying to make up a ten minute loss, that’s kind of important.
I didn’t really want to listen to NPR this morning. I didn’t want to have to process how my minor inconvenience interrupting my morning trip to campus was still within the realm of normal, whereas for thousands of students, faculty, staff, parents, friends, community members, and loved ones in and around the Virginia Tech campus, normalcy had simply ceased. I didn’t want to think about the as-yet-unknown names and faces of those whose lives were senselessly and prematurely ended for as-yet-unknown reasons. I didn’t want to wonder what such a tragedy might be like on my campus, or to think about the terror of enduring such a nightmare.
But without a functioning clock in the car, the best I could do was tune in and hope to let it fade into the background.
I made it to my spin class with mere seconds to spare – long enough to grab a sweat towel and adjust my bike – and tried to race harder and faster, to leave behind the uncertainty, the unanswered questions, the fears and most of all the grief. The irony of a spin class is that even when you’re sprinting, your wheels just sit there and spin.
I was late to a meeting of administrators and just missed our new Chancellor address concerns about the security of our own campus and the need for us to revisit our emergency plan in light of yesterday’s events. Discussions about upcoming projects – a major enrollment growth plan, the implementation of PeopleSoft Campus Solutions to begin over the summer, the administrative transition as our Provost leaves for another position – quickly moved in, prodding us all into our own present, our own routines, our own familiar.
A quick cup of coffee with a colleague and then a jaunt with my drum over to the fine arts building for dress rehearsal, where I didn’t stop to realize that the 20 students in the recital hall would only have been 2/3rds of those lost.
And now, in my office for the first time today, the enormity is starting to permeate. Our offices are quiet, but still our routines continue, as they must, both for society’s continued functioning as for our own well-being.
It’s times like these when my athiesm becomes most pronounced. I would love to have a pat but heartfelt response – something like “God(dess) be with them” or “My prayers are for them” – but they don’t fit for me and I dislike using such phrases without meaning. I can’t possibly imagine what yesterday, today, or the coming tomorrows were and will be like for those in and around Virginia Tech, but I do sincerely hope they find comfort in each other and/or their faith as they mourn and grieve and, eventually, begin to heal.