Getting Back to “Normal”…
PHOTO CREDIT: This photo is from the Rolling Stone article “Remembering the Victims of the Lewiston, Maine Mass Shooting that can be found here: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/lewiston-maine-shooting-victims-1234863628/
In November of 2020, right after the lock downs that redefined our economy and our lives, an internet friend of mine and I decided to take our relationship to a new level. We fell in love. She was in the middle of a divorce and needed consolation and the promise of a new start. We decided to follow our emotions and begin a new life together. She lived in Maine and I lived in Atlanta. Someone was going to have to move.
Atlanta was becoming more dangerous every day and her children were in college and high school, so the decision was obvious that I should move to Maine. In May 2021, I loaded up a U-Haul with all my stuff and drove up the East coast. I had lived in southern New England when I was stationed in Groton, CT in the Navy in the 1980s. I had missed autumn in New England for three decades and this was just another bonus to moving to be with the woman I love.
One of the things I was very fortunate to be away from was the violence of a city in decay. I lived around the Buckhead area for over 15 years. In August 2019, I moved to south Florida to help my mother recover from an illness. In the riots of 2020, I watched a couple of restaurants I used to work in, two Targets, and our neighborhood grocery store destroyed on social media. Atlanta was no longer a city of promise as I realized that my business and income were portable.
I had gotten used to the peace and quiet of a small central Maine city. My fiancee reminded me to be safe around town. I always thought that it was a little silly considering that the violence of the major city I left behind was in the rear view mirror.
On Wednesday, October 25, 2023 at around 6:45 pm, a lone shooter went to our neighborhood bowling alley and opened fire. It’s our neighborhood bowling alley that we have frequented with no incident. Seven died that night. He then went to a bar over by the Androscoggin River called Schemengees Bar & Grille and opened fire again. Eleven died there. The total count of the murder victims.
After eight police cars and four ambulances went by our apartment, my fiancee and I decided to drive to the scene of the bowling alley to see what happened. The bowling alley os on my running route so I am familiar with the area. ON the first pass we drove by with no incident. The second time, a police officer stopped us and said “We have an active shooter and there are 20 to 25 dead.” We are grateful that the count was lower.
Since then, the shooter committed suicide by all accounts and was found dead a couple of days later. The news crews came and some got to see their favorite celebrity news people up close. Biden showed up and gave his expected speech. The funerals started a week later and then we go back to “normal.”
Our hearts and prayers continue to go out to the families of the victims. If you would like to contribute to the various agencies rendering support, visit Healing Together: Supporting Victims and Families of the Tragedy in Lewiston for the best ways to donate.
Now, every time an emergency vehicle goes by with sirens on, I count how many. I am someone who has lived in a city full of violence. I am a little more on guard these days.