Sunday, August 14, 2016

Magnum Opus

I’m a shitty writer so here it goes. Warning that this is a hodgepodge of my thoughts with no structure. Sorry not sorry.

It’s been a month since the attack happened, and I still think about it everyday. I haven’t talked about it much, especially to people who weren’t there. I’m physically feeling a lot better, my foot feels great, unless I’m walking uphill (which I’m a little worried about because Berkeley’s a bitch). And surprisingly, I’ve mentally come to terms with what happened.

I’ve been going to therapy twice a week since I got back. My therapist recommended this intensive meditation and yoga camp where I was literally stuck in a building with hella old people for 9 hours a day. Not gonna lie, it was boring as shit, but it forced me to really think through a lot of things I’d been avoiding.

I hate when people see me cry. I hate to seem like I don’t have my shit together. The last thing I want is for someone to feel bad for me. The night the attack happened, I didn’t want to talk to anyone. My foot was hurting like a bitch and I just wanted to sleep and pretend everything was some fucked up nightmare. Even when the truck drove by, I never registered what was happening. I was watching the fireworks alone on the beach, and was on my way to meet up with the group when the truck passed. I turned around when I heard screaming to a white truck just 20 feet away.

I honestly can’t tell you what happened. When I saw it coming at me, I just ran. Somehow I ended up on the ground. Did someone deliberately push me to save my life? Or did someone trip and hit me on their way down? No idea. But it doesn’t matter. Somehow my foot got caught in between other people who fell and the person under me was directly hit. The momentum from the hit to his body dragged me a few feet. I remember sitting on the ground, terrified, my fucking foot caught under someone who was dead.

Who the fuck am I to complain about my foot hurting when there were other people who had it way worse? I have no right to be upset.

Survivor’s guilt is real. And it has been the hardest thing for me to deal with these past few weeks. I couldn’t stop thinking about the butterfly effect, and how in some way, I could’ve changed the outcome. Coming to terms with Nick’s death hasn’t been easy. Everything still seems so recent. I was so angry at myself for the way things played out. Nick was trying to convince me to go on a double date with his friend in Monaco. I remember telling him that it was a dumb idea because every bar in Nice would be lit and that Monaco isn’t even in France. Why would we go to another fricken country on France’s independence day? But if we had gone to Monaco that day, he wouldn’t have been on the promenade that evening. That night, he wanted to go to a bar, and I wanted to go on the beach. So we split up and decided to meet up after the fireworks ended. If I hadn’t let us split up maybe the outcome would’ve changed. I had a missed call from him after the fireworks ended at 10:32, right when the truck passed. What if he was calling me so didn’t hear the truck coming? What if we didn’t split off into groups? What if we all stayed together? What if we didn’t drink beforehand? What if we had just left the dorms just 10 minutes later? All these different scenarios were playing out in my head. So much could’ve gone differently and maybe our friend would still be here.

But this is the shit that I need to move on from. I need to accept what happened. No matter how much I think about it, nothing is going to change. The first few days I was back, I was wondering if I regret studying abroad or not; if all the heartbreak and tragedy was worth it. Beyond any doubt, I don’t. I had the best summer of my life. I met the most amazing people from all over the world and lived in such a beautiful city with diverse culture. It’s a real testament to the quality of the people in the program, that even amidst chaos and danger, that people were willing to help and support each other. I’m not going to lie, I am a selfish person. In many scenarios, I’m always thinking of myself, and I would say the same for many others. But I’m inspired by the strangers who helped me walk when I couldn’t. I’m inspired by the motorcyclists who risked their lives to stop the driver. We can’t just let this event happen and not learn anything from it. To not try to be a better person after what happened is disrespectful to those who died.

The takeaways are to always be grateful and never take anything for granted. To do things you really fucking enjoy. For those who know me well, yeah I’m sassy and cynical. But it’s important to be positive, a lesson I’m still learning. Acts of terror are meant to scare everyone. I remember being worried about traveling to Europe, but thinking an attack would be the last thing to happen in Nice. The point of attacks is to frighten everyone. To counter them, we must not give into fear. We should spread kindness and understanding, again, something I need to work on. But I believe everyone in Nice only grew from this experience. That they’ll continue to dedicate their lives to not only Nick, Rickard, and Misha, but to all people who didn’t get to finish their own stories.