Three little dots.
Today I prayed for three little dots.
Today I begged for three little dots.
Today my future depended on three little dots.
Today, while at lunch with co-workers celebrating a birthday, I got a text from my brother.
“Something’s happening at the airport. I love you guys”
At first I didn’t think twice of it but then I quickly grabbed my phone.
“What do you mean?” I responded.
I waited for those three little dots to show that he was responding.
My heart began to race. I jumped on Twitter and searched “Istanbul.” The first tweet that came up read, “Two explosions reported at Istanbul airport.”
I went numb.
72 hours prior, I dropped my brother and his girlfriend Kristine off at the Burbank Airport for the start of a European vacation that they’ve been looking forward to for months. Kristine had just graduated from nursing school at UCLA and my brother had just finished the TV show he was working on. The timing could not have been more perfect for this trip, other than the fact that they were embarking on a 2-week adventure with no Wi-Fi on the night of the Game of Thrones finale.
“We landed in Turkey. Long flight but I slept through most of it. We’re going to stay in the lounge tonight and explore the city tomorrow.” -Brother
“You best rest up and watch GoT while you have that Wi-Fi” -Me
A few minutes later, my brother texted my mom and I a photo of a guy sitting in front of his laptop that had a ship on it.
“This dude is watching last weeks episode” –Brother
“Well maybe he’ll go right into yesterday’s episode.” -Mom
A couple hours had passed. My phone dinged.
“Well, I took mom’s advice and watched the next episode with him. He’s a Russian dude that didn’t speak a lick of English so he had Russian subtitles on. We didn’t share a language but after each crazy development we shared a
universal gasp and tsk tsk tsk type response. Lol” -Brother
On my 8th birthday, my brother and I were robbed at knife point for a pair of Air Jordans. My brother chased after the thief and ended up getting hit by a car that had jumped a light. That feeling of seeing my brother lying in the middle of a busy intersection motionless has haunted me through my entire life. That day, I was robbed of a pair of shoes and my innocence. Three years later, the Columbine shooting took place. I was 10 years old. My brother and I would walk to school and he dropped me off at the entrance of my elementary school while he proceeded to his middle school several blocks away. Every day, I’d fear that a scene like Columbine would take place at his school. Each day at 3:30pm, a wave of relief would overtake me when he arrived to pick me up.
That anxiety that was planted decades ago has been watered time and time again from 9/11 to 7/7. Through my life, I have had to give credence to the quiet whisper that arises from my guts asking whether it’s safe to go to a movie theater, a concert or a restaurant. In the past few months, there’s been shootings at two places I consider home, my alma mater, UCLA, and a gay club. When it comes to the feeling of not feeling safe, I have enough fuel to keep me going for the rest of my life and that was before today.
As I waited to hear back from my brother, I frantically paced back and forth down Ventura Blvd. I thought of the frantic text messages that Mina Justice received from her son Eddie on the night of the Pulse nightclub shooting. I thought of the fear that was going through my brother and Kristine at the airport hearing active gunshots and the windows of the lounge being shattered by an explosion. I thought of the phone call that I was going to have to make to my mom informing her of everything. I thought of that 8-year-old boy standing in the middle of the intersection years ago having to imagine what life was going to be like without his best friend.
And then there they were.
Three little dots.
“We heard gun shots and an explosion. We’re in someone’s room at the hotel hiding. I’ll keep you posted as best I can.” -Brother
My brother and Kristine escaped from the airport lounge they were hiding in crawling from cover to cover over shattered glass. They made their way to an adjoining hotel where they knocked on doors until someone opened one. It was a couple from Spain that were there celebrating their honeymoon. After several hours, they were evacuated from the airport crossing over shattered glass, dried blood and the sound of sirens wailing.
I’m thankful that my brother and Kristine are okay but my heart breaks for the hundreds of families who were not as lucky today. It terrifies me to have to imagine what it was like at that terminal today and it sends shivers down my spine knowing how lucky Adam and Kristine were.
I’m sick and tired of being afraid. I don’t want to live in a world where I question my safety at each turn and the intentions of those around me. I don’t want to live in a world of Brexit and Donald Trump where fear is a motivating factor for how we live our lives. I want to live in a world where a random Russian guy that doesn’t speak English will scoot over and let you sit next to him to watch the Game of Thrones finale. I want to live in a world where a couple from Spain on their honeymoon will open their door for you amidst a terrorist attack and provide you with shelter.
Despite everything that’s occurred today, that is the world that I believe we live in.