In a crowd

Tonight I went to a dance at my children's elementary school. I attended along with their mother and her fantastic partner. I am so happy that our relationship is at such a good point where we all communicate about what's happening in their lives. Together the three of us are parenting two people that will inherit this world.

The auditorium was packed with people, all of us parents and all of us children. There was dancing, there were prizes, and there were my children playing with their friends, interacting with the three parents.

I had to give up my shift at Court Square Tavern to go, and it is likely I won't be able to fully return there like I had hoped. Maybe that is for the best.

There are not often crowds there, not the crowds I need to be in now that I feel like I'm fully helping to raise my children.

I was at first uncomfortable at the dance because of my anxiety and because their school is not in my neighborhood. I don't know the other parents as much as I want to, but I am sure I will get to know them as all of our children grow up, and as we mourn the one child whose life was recently cut short. That memorial service was two weeks ago tomorrow.

This time last week I was in a crowd at Skybar, and when I went to move my car I turned on the radio and heard details of the people who died in the Philippines when that huge storm hit. I teared up a little at the loss I knew people like me were suffering on the other side of the globe. I went back to the crowd and I was sober and sad, and remembered that sadness is always just around the corner.

But if that's true, then happiness is also a moment away at every single second.

Tonight, the parents of Charlotte were there. They are not retreating from the world. They are remembering their daughter by remaining in the crowd, serving as a shining example for their older daughter. At one point, the mother came over and sat down next to my son and told him that she was going to be returning to the class to read books, just like she did before the accident.

As I type this, I don't believe that anything wrong has ever happened in my life. I can imagine a reset button that allows me to cut off old resentments, allows me to rethink what I believe I know about a particular situation. This attribute serves me well in my line of work and I have finally learned how to apply it to my own life. I can embrace that there is always light, even on the darkest day. That light can grow, can build in warmth, and eventually it can be enough of a guiding force.

Tragedy is always a moment away. But, we're human, and we're at our best when we can come together in crowds to celebrate life. Tonight was a school dance and I felt so blessed to see so many teachers who are so passionate about educating their students. Two weeks ago it was a memorial for a little girl who inspired so many people in her short life.

I will try my best to overcome the feeling I so often have to be a hermit, to withdraw, to protect myself from future pain by avoiding contact with other people who are just like me. I will help raise my children to not be afraid of others, to be certain of themselves, and to know how to go forward in the face of adversity and defeat. I want them to not feel as alone as I often do. I don't need to burden anyone, especially my public readers, with the depths of despair I often feel as a result of a time in my life that I used to perceive as tragic.

I will always try to remember that I'm always in a crowd. I live in a growing city. There are probably 50 people within a 500 foot radius of my house. I don't know many of them, but I want to. I want the same kind of neighborhood spirit that animates Belmont to be in all of my city's neighborhoods. I want all of us to be there for each other when tragedy happens.

I want all of us to celebrate what we could all create if we agreed that we all want the same things.

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