April 10, 2009 12:05 am
My senior year of college was my “I Will Survive” year, Gloria Gaynor would have been proud. I had just come out of a horrible relationship and was living alone for the first time ever. On top of mending my broken heart, I worked and went to school full time. Having never lived alone before, I was uneasy. The apartment complex wasn’t in the best area but it was what I could afford. I would come home at 2AM after a long night of waiting tables and think that every shadow in my dark apartment was an intruder. Then I’d lie awake and get scared by every sound I heard before finally passing out from exhaustion. It sounds like the ultimate college experience, no?
I was jolted awake one night by a strange sound. There was a ghetto bird (helicopter) outside shining it’s spotlight into the apartment windows. A voice came on the megaphone saying “Come out of the building with your hands up.” I was paralyzed with fear but somehow I inched toward the window to see what was going on. There were flashing police lights but I wasn’t sure exactly where they were since there was a ledge on either side of my window blocking the peripheral view. The helicopter was right on the side of my building, shining its lights up and down. Just as I started peering out the window, I heard gunshots. Five of them, “BAM, BAM……. BAMBAMBAM”. I dove on the floor in a move that would have made Greg Louganis proud.
My instincts told me to get the hell away from the windows so I army crawled to the center of my apartment. I stayed low in case any stray bullets came through. In case you’re wondering, I grew up in the suburbs and any gun fight knowledge I have comes from TV but at least I knew what to do. I stayed there, shaking and practically shitting my pants for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, all was quiet and I could hear a diesel engine running outside. I mustered up the courage to look out the window again. There were news trucks in the distance so I crawled back to the living room to turn on the TV.
My little apartment complex was all over the news. Earlier in the day, a drug deal had gone bad and someone got killed. The killer fled to his girlfriend’s house, IN MY APARTMENT BUILDING, and took her hostage. He eventually let her go and continued the standoff with police. Shortly after I began watching, they announced that the gunman had taken his own life. They left out the part about it taking FIVE bullets and I’m guessing there may have been more to the story than they were letting on.
I lived alone for the rest of the school year and made it through mostly unscathed. I’m still the same paranoid person who can’t sleep and thinks up the worst scenarios in my head. In fact, having kids has intensified my paranoia tenfold. I worry about my kid’s safety and how I’m going to protect them in this crazy world but I think I’ve got it figured out. If you hear about some crazy woman who sends her kids to school with bulletproof vests, it’s probably me. You never know when bullets will start whizzing by so you’ve got to be prepared.