I was debating for a while about whether or not I would write something about what happened, and while it’s surreal I was there last weekend, I’ve never directly or indirectly experienced that type of violence in my life so I will skip that.
I do kind of want to get my thoughts about IV down.
My memories of Santa Barbara are overwhelmingly positive. The light is like no other, Ben Harper is playing loud enough in every other household that it’s a permanent soundtrack, and athletic and tanned bodies, boys and girls, are skateboarding by on their way to class, to friends, to the beach. A square mile of 20,000 beautiful, smart, fun, carefree, 18-22 yr olds with little more on their mind than grabbing a burrito and getting ready for the evening ahead. I liked my sorority, loved my frat boys, love/hated my major, and loved being out of Texas. Isla Vista is too small to need to drive anywhere so each night was the same; walking/biking from venue to venue, an endless buffet of good times, natty lights, and golden memories. And oh how the golden memories color everything. Only this weekend did I remember that I had gone to school just months after an equal tragedy (although overshadowed by another even more infinitely horrific one).
And then the eventual dawning of the fact that IV is not a safe place, it wasn’t before this and it won’t be after this. It’s a magnet for the wealthy, the children of, the entitled, the hopeful, the morally lax, and all of the above and more are just looking for a good time. A side effect of growing up wealthy (and usually white) is that your scope of consequence is deeply skewed. Very few stay in IV, or even SB, after you graduate so there is little to no investment in your community or the long term. The town basically starts anew every 4/5 years, all new people, little sense of history. Communal memory is short.
About 1/3 of all women in college will be sexually assaulted. You can’t really know how many at UCSB will be, because they won’t report it. I didn’t report it either time. Both guys were my friends and while they probably don’t remember/would not identify what they did as assault (which, while tangential, is another conversation) it was. I didn’t tell anyone but my friends about my stalker, and they scared him off when he started coming around our dorms. I used to walk around IV and my actual “comforting thought” while walking alone was that I’m bigger than the average girl (5’11”) so it would be more of a hassle to deal with me, as a stranger, than it would be for your typical 5’4”-6” chick. Which in hindsight, is a pretty fucked up way to think to comfort oneself when walking home from a party or to a friend’s house after dark. I remember reading somewhere that it’s harder to attack someone when you see them as a human, so if a man/boy/guy was walking too near me when I was walking home alone I would engage him immediately and be as friendly as possible and then when I was within eye-line of my destination I would say HAVE A GOOD NIGHT and sprint. I never was attacked by a stranger, so did my tactics work or was I just lucky? We’ll never know. I can’t honestly tell you if my friends were attacked because they never told me either way. I didn’t tell a lot about my experiences so it’s probably safe to say that someone else I knew did.
In a few weeks my memories will turn rosier as this news cycle starts to be replaced, and maybe that’s for the best in regards to my brain space. But now, this is where my memories are at, even as I drown my apartment in Jack Johnson.