All the rollercoaster, none of the amusement park

I was beginning to get worried there for a while. The Flutter Glub Meow page hadn’t been updated in a long time and I was starting to feel damned alone out here (if you haven’t logged on, look to your left and click on the corresponding site). The editor there is undoubtedly going through a lot of the same stuff yours truly is.

I’m having strange nightmares. No planes, no sky scrapers, but nightmares nonetheless. I can’t imagine the horror shows that must be going on in the minds of those heroes in New York.

On my short drive into work today I think I figured out why we folk (the folk who are nowhere near the catastrophe) are feeling some effects. We (and by “we” I mean adult America) all aged about ten years in the last week. A good portion of us–those 35 and under–don’t remember a war in the real sense of the word. The last action we saw was that media event in the Gulf. Now…unlike any time in recent history, we’re seeing hell right here in America. It’s like someone came in our houses and took our families right out from underneath us.

We’re all slowly realizing that hell actually exists. Pain…throughout most of my 28 young years…has belonged to someone else. I’ve listened to women tell stories of how they were force to sleep naked with their fathers. I’ve watched girlfriends and best friends lose a great guy to a horrible accident. I’ve watched my grandparents watch one of their sons plunge so far into the drug world that he had to attend his own son’s funeral under guard by a county deputy (he went right back in the slammer that night). And I can’t count how many strangers have told me about the son or daughter they lost to one car wreck or drive-by shooting.

In short, pain has always been an isolated source of sympathy for me. I could always feel how that one person hurt and try to hold them. Now, the entire country is in so much pain it can’t express how it hurts and I have no idea who to hold.

I sat at a traffic light today. I had to sit through it as it changed three times. One person in all the cars that passed was smiling. And I think he was only doing it to make his girlfriend smile. She wasn’t.

And no one feels safe. Today I drove up into the northern part of the state. A huge nuclear generator sits up in the foothills, surrounded by a pretty lake with a pretty name…Keowee. About 48 hours ago, three unmarked choppers started hovering low over the reactors. The local cops had know idea who was at the controls. The state cops had no idea. And as it turns out, some of the feds didn’t either. Two F-16s from a still-unnamed Air Force base scrambled and flew here. It took everybody about five and half hours to realize that the choppers were unmarked American military helicopters on a Top Secret training misson.

We all just grew up. I’m mad at myself because nothing excites me anymore. I’m not excited about watching football this weekend. I skipped a Donna the Buffalo concert last night (if you don’t know the band, look it up). I don’t want to hang out with my friends. I don’t want to turn on the TV. And…I don’t want to go to work.

I know that I am experiencing nothing as terrible as thousands of families in this country. I couldn’t.

I don’t even know what to write anymore. Simply put… this isn’t getting any easier.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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