I live 30 seconds from the movie theater that was shot up in Odessa, TX on Saturday.
This weekend I was in Austin, TX for the holiday weekend. My boyfriend and I were waiting for our pizza to get to our table when he looked at his phone and froze. When he picked it up to show me, I read this email from our apartment complex:
Tears instantly filled my eyes and I called my mom because sometimes you just need to talk to your mom when you're scared.
We didn't know anything yet other than the fact that there was a shooter in our town and soon we learned where it was happening and that if we were home, we would've heard the gunshots and the chaos from our apartment.
When we got back to our hotel we turned on CNN to learn all of the details about the shooting. We sat there in silence thinking that we could have been walking into the movie theater at the time of the attack or on I-20 going to get groceries when the shooting spree occurred.
Fortunately, we are so lucky and blessed to have been away for the weekend, but seven innocent people lost their lives and over 20 others were shot and injured.
I can't speak for everyone in Odessa, but I think things feel different here since the shooting took place. I've only been here for a few months, but there is a liveliness in the community missing that was still present before I left that Saturday morning.
When we got back to Odessa Monday evening, I couldn't help but wonder if my mail lady was friends with Mary Granados, the 29-year-old postal worker who's mail truck was hijacked by the shooter after he took her life.
Or if the young teen girls across the complex were in the same classes as Leilah Hernandez, the 15-year-old girl who died despite her big brother holding her tightly in his arms trying to protect her.
Or if my neighbor's son is in the same daycare as Anderson Davis, the little 17-month-old girl who was injured badly from shrapnel while she was in the car with her family.
My boyfriend and I always say that the people in Odessa are here to either work in the oil industry, or they were born and raised here and just love it and that's why they stay.
Odessa is known as the location of "Friday Night Lights" and being a hub for the oil and gas industry.
Now it's going to be known as one of the locations of a fatal mass shooting in America.
I also can't help but keep my head on a swivel while I'm sitting at red lights or walking into a grocery store. Now more than ever, when I enter a public scene, I consider any sort of escape options just in case an attack occurred.
I don't know what the answer to gun violence is. I don't know what the answer to letting go of that feeling of fear of being caught in a mass shooting.
Tell your family you love them. Call your grandma. Hug your dog. You can never show someone you love them too much, especially when you don't know when they will be gone.
Here are the GoFundMe pages available for some of the victims of the shooting, please donate if you can.