There in Spirit

I was in high school when September 11 happened, so I was able to go home and hug my parents at the end of that horrible day. Having always lived in the same city as family made big national tragedies easier to take, no matter how old I was. When the Newtown shooting happened, I went to my parents' house that night for something, and it was just nice to hug them.

When the bombings in Boston happened, I just wanted to sit in my parents living room and talk about something else. And being in a city that is considered a prime terrorist target, all of this hits home a bit more--that I'm away from my family, that if something happens, I can't escape to their house without driving to Philadelphia and hopping on a plane (if the airports in DC are closed).

On Thursday, I woke up (excruciatingly) early to catch a flight to a wedding in California. I had a few Washington Post news alerts about a fire in Waco, TX. Then another alert about an explosion. I really didn't pay much attention (It was 5:30 a.m.) until I got on Facebook and saw several friends posting that their thoughts were with the town of West, TX. A small town a little north of Waco, known for the Czech Stop which is a regular detour on any trip down I-35. I can't even count the number of times I have anxiously awaited exit 352, stopped in at the Czech Stop to get a roast beef puff and, after they discontinued that, a sausage and cheese kolache. There was usually an impulse purchase at the register of a cookie of some sort, too. This place is probably not known well to people outside of Texas, but it's such a quintessential part of home for me, of driving to Austin or San Antonio for the weekend, of being excited for the destination I was headed to, or happy that I was a little more than an hour from home.

All I wanted to do was help--donate blood, send supplies, sign a card. That's when the 1,300 mile distance tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me that sometimes, you're too far away to do something like that. So I sat at my gate at National, reading all of the news stories, and praying for a small town on I-35.