It’s probably not surprising to hear that I’ve spent the morning thinking about last night’s horrific news from Manchester. I’ve tried to jot down my thoughts, but I’m really struggling with it. Everything I try to say comes across flat, platitudinous, and I can’t properly express the depths of my emotion. Because, once again, this hits far too close to home. I’m devastated.
I was at a concert the night of the attack at the Bataclan theatre in Paris a year and a half ago. My sister and I had driven to Philadelphia for a girls’ night out – dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant prior to seeing Don Henley. It was a wonderful, memorable night filled with laughter, margaritas, chair-dancing (thanks to the army of ushers waiting to tell us to sit down if we dared to be so disruptive as to stand), and ending the evening with my sister running into Scott Crago (her favorite drummer) in the street after the show. We didn’t hear about the attack until we’d gotten home. I remember feeling actually physically sick. And I cried. God, did I cry. To destroy the sanctity of a crowded concert hall – because make no mistake, they are in their way sacred spaces, a mass of people coming together in euphoric communion and sharing something deeply personal – is the grossest sort of violation. But through my despair and disgust, I also knew that my fear wasn’t great enough for me to change a thing. I’d found my culture, my home, something that gave me unspeakable happiness and that I would never relinquish. And I haven’t. I’ve been to more concerts since that night than I had in the preceding thirty-four years.
But I’m an adult. I can make the conscious decision to not be cowed or intimidated and to carry on as I always have. I cannot fathom how parents today will move forward. And the kids…how many of them were attending their first concert last night? I’m utterly distraught thinking that what should have been a safe, welcoming haven has now become a place of horror and pain for them and will be for the rest of their lives.
But giving in to that fear can’t be an option. So I will grieve with the people of Manchester. But I will also continue to stand with a few thousand of my closest friends at the foot of a stage, listening to music made by people who inspire me. I’ll take my nieces to see their favorite artists at open-air amphitheaters and we’ll dance and sing under the stars like we don’t have a care in the world. We won’t be afraid – we’ll be joyful.