For April 19th.
Really? Fifteen years?
Fifteen years ago, I was a senior in highschool. I was in Band, the regular second hour class for juniors and seniors, along with fifth hour, I'm not sure which name had been hung on that hour, "Pep Band," Jazz Band," or something like that -- I had it to fill in that hour for the second semester after making up a semester of history that I'd flunked in tenth grade. There wasn't an actual Band involved, it was really more like Study Hall in the Band Room -- homework, practice time, or when the Director was gone, there might've been a little horseplay involved... It's been fifteen years, I'd say that surpasses the statute of limitations for "Snitching On The Sly."
I remember one classmate who had a different "extra hour" of band getting extremely pissed off at me when I started putting my mouthpiece in my purse; in fifth hour, my friends and I occasionally messed around with drums and xylophones and the piano. Sometimes we'd warp the hell out of that massive gong and then have to press ourselves against it to stop the ringing 'cause we thought we heard a door start to open. We did not put our mouths on things... Apparently the other groups played around with everything, including my bass trombone, and uh, Ewwww! I've never been interested in putting my mouth on things that other people put their mouths on -- I was just a little creeped out by the invasive nature of someone pulling my horn out of the case without my knowledge, but I might've got over it were it not for them using my mouthpiece instead of getting their own. How many times did I pull that horn out for rehearsal and unknowingly end up with someone else's germs? Bleh! Mouthpiece in purse from there on out...
I did not have any sort of Math class that year, having already met my requirements by squeaking through Honors Algebra II by the skin of my teeth the year before. My two computer classes were just interesting enough that I didn't get bored. Art class was pure gravy. Senior English was a challenge, but the teacher was great, so everything went fine.
My brother had already choked the mouthy punk who wouldn't leave me alone in third hour. My Best Friend and I were still on good terms then. My parents took care of my truck, and the gas, and the insurance, and the giant Uniden cell phone in the big leather bag that took up the entire middle seat of the truck. I had probably just had my first tiny peek at the green SHO that would be my graduation present -- but I still had my heart set on the red Mustang 5.0 convertible beside it...
Andy and I had been dating just almost six months, and the prom was three days away.
I was eighteen and not worried about anything except makin' room in my purse for that bass trombone mouthpiece.
Not worried about anything.
I remember leaving the band building to come into the school through the back side of the cafeteria, and there was a crowd between the tables, all staring at the TV. Those TVs were never, ever on, except for "Channel One" (the silly video tape that got played once a week in imitation of a "satellite feed") or to play whatever video the popular people had put together. There was never any random TV-watching on any of those TVs, so it had to be something big coming in on the national news.
The first thing I saw was a building with the side blown open.
The first thing I thought was "Great, one more thing for the news to fixate on and repeat over and over again just like that stupid OJ police chase," television had started to seem a little repetitive with that being all over the news all the time.
Yeah, eighteen-year-old me might've needed a pop upside the head once in a while.
When I realized it was in Oklahoma City, everything shifted and I felt a little sick inside.
I guess it didn't really sink in 'til I got home and sat down in the living room with my parents and Andy to really watch the news instead of just hearing bits of what I could catch in the cafeteria in the five minute breaks between classes.
There was a daycare center there, there were babies and toddlers, little kids... Little kids were hurt and killed, deliberately, violently.
I cry every time they read the names on the news or the radio on the anniversary of the bombing.
In 2000, I was in Oklahoma City for a convention of Automotive Recyclers; I ended up hangin' out with two guys from other yards in Texas and we drove over there to see the memorial before there was an actual museum. They were just getting the sod put down among the chairs. The chairs and the reflecting pool were stunning, but it was the statue of Jesus and the fence... The chain-link fence covered up with every sort of memento anyone could attach to a chain-link fence... It was the fence that brought me to my knees.
As Robert Earl Keen says, "That morning in late April, Oklahoma, '95," we do not forget.
We do not forget.
See that we do not forget.