An Open Letter To My Hometown—My Heart Aches For You, Thousand Oaks

An Open Letter To My Hometown—My Heart Aches For You, Thousand Oaks

I am devastated that this happened to You.


Hearing of other mass shootings is always just as heart-wrenching. I've been listening to my family and friends talk about You, saying that this hits too close to home, well no, they're wrong. It was home, exactly 1.28 miles from my house.

I never thought Your name would be added to that list. The list that is far too long, of all the affected mass shooting cities in America. The list that has affected hundreds of families, children, and friends—now we bear a name on that list as well. The list comprised of 304 mass shootings this year, and we are on the 312th day.

I wanted to say thank you for being the best hometown a young girl growing up could have asked for. You were voted the third safest city in America, and it always felt that way. It was something I was proud of.

Waking up in the morning to dozens of text messages, mostly from my mother and father, was a terrifying thing. I never thought it would be about You, the place where I felt safest. When I opened the messages from so many concerned friends and family members reaching out about this tragedy, it sadly forced my life back into perspective. I'm forced to take a step back, and recognize the important things in life: not taking people for granted. Not taking for granted that my little sister is safe and that she didn't go to Borderline last night, but my heart goes out to the person whose sisters went.

Seeing the White House lowering its flag to half mast for You, seeing Google have a black ribbon dedicated to You, is something I never thought I would experience.

And I thank you Borderline for all those fun nights, you were the first place I was used my I.D. to enter a bar, it was a rite of passage for those of us from Thousand Oaks. And thank You, Thousand Oaks, for giving me Borderline, a place where two generations of my family would frequent. I loved hearing stories from my family members about them line dancing and having a blast. I would go there with my friends on the signature Wednesday college nights, we would laugh and stumble over our own feet as we tried to learn the dances.

Now, sadly, I hear a different memory of the college night; one where one of my closest friends is running for his life, one where another friend is jumping out of the window when the smoke grenades went off and another, Brendan Kelly, a high school peer, a marine, and survivor of the Las Vegas shooting, a hero, who saved lives at both mass shootings, is going through this horror again.

I'm sorry that this happened to You, and I thank you, Thousand Oaks, for being a home, a community, an amazing place to grow up, a place where I have met some of the most resilient people, a place that is still and will be a safe haven for me, and I know we will come out of this stronger than ever before. I have never seen a community come together in such masses, I am truly proud of my hometown and their courage.

The fact that change needs to take place is no longer up for argument, but don't stop your prayers either.

T.O. Strong.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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