From the Ground in Highland Park

 

Note: I’ve updated this post with a comment below.

First, I was in Ohio when the shooting took place in Highland Park, but it’s where I’ve lived for the past two years. And I’ve loved it here.

Second, the shooter basically shot at my building. That is, he was across the street, and all the people he shot at were on the other side of the street, on a plaza that encompasses my apartment unit.

There was blood in the lobby until very recently. I’m surrounded by crime scene tape. There’s been nothing but police officers with big guns everywhere, but nobody knows anything. Or they can’t tell me anything.

I spent Monday night in a hotel in the next town over — by the time I knew how bad the situation was in Highland Park, I was already much closer to there than it would have been to turn around and go back to Ohio. So I grabbed some carryout and had a rough night. I just didn’t feel real.

Fortunately, it seems like nobody I know here was killed in the shooting and I don’t think anybody has been injured, but there are some folks I won’t know about until I go to church again.

Until then, I guess I have to check in with the police and FBI if I want to leave my apartment and get back in. There’s nobody telling me how long that will last. As it happens, I was never able to update my driver’s license because the secretary of state’s offices were closed because of COVID, so proving residency has been a chore.

I’m thinking that I might break my lease and move to Wisconsin, but I don’t know if my job will allow me to move as far away from a city as I want to. I’ve always liked living in a city/town, but now don’t want to live in a town anymore. At least not for the moment.

Finally, the weirdest thing is how everything else seems to just move on without me. The Twitter pundits exhausted themselves and have moved on. The public transit line outside my place is back to its regular schedule. It’s normal and it’s good, but it’s also hard because not far from where I’m writing this, so many people were killed. I’m not sure when it will feel normal, or if it even should

I guess there’s not much point to what I’m writing, but it helps to get it out. Thanks for reading.

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There are 17 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    BillJackson: but it helps to get it out.

    Indeed.

    • #1
  2. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    I’m so sorry.

    • #2
  3. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Be alert to unwelcome changes in your own behavior three to six months from now.  Things work strangely.  
    I wish well for all of your friends and so forth.  

    • #3
  4. Richard Easton Coolidge
    Richard Easton
    @RichardEaston

    I lived in Winnetka from 2003-16 (two towns south of HP). It’s hard to think of a place less likely to have  a mass shooting than downtown Highland Park. Am very sorry about this.

    • #4
  5. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    I have frequently heard as sage advice: Do not make any major life changes before at least 6 months after an emotional trauma.  (death divorce, mass shooting?) Things that seem untenable in the immediate aftermath of an emotional event, often become acceptable, and even welcome, a few months out. 

    In the meantime:  Hugs. 

    Hang in there. 

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I hope that sharing your experience with us helps just a little. The whole thing must seem surreal. Take good care of yourself, Bill.

    • #6
  7. BillJackson Coolidge
    BillJackson
    @BillJackson

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I hope that sharing your experience with us helps just a little. The whole thing must seem surreal. Take good care of yourself, Bill.

    Thanks everyone. It does help. 

    Lockdowns were extremely hard for me and this is even more strict. When I try to leave, whatever law enforcement out there is says “You’ve crossed the tape, we can’t let you back in” .. and I talk my way back in. But sooner or later my luck will run out, so I have to think in terms of “Do I have enough on me to go stay in a hotel? Do I have my computer so I can do work? What about a workout? Do I have enough to do that?”

    And not only is it completely inconsistent, but there’s no information. I rent, so of course my building management says to “please reach out” with anything, but then doesn’t say anything. They defer to law enforcement … 

    And the law enforcement? The same. They all say it’s the FBI’s show and that’s all they know. Most of the police are from surrounding suburbs, so some of them don’t even know there are rental units in my building. 

    I’ve run out of food. 

    At this point, all I want to know is are we talking days/weeks/months? Then I can decide to go back to Ohio or rent a hotel or keep trying my luck of getting back in the building. But, just as with lockdowns, there is no meaningful communication. 

    Meanwhile, the rest of the world, my work, my boss … they’re all saying “Gosh that’s rough. By the way, while I have you here, did you get my email?” 

    • #7
  8. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Jeeze.

    I’m so sorry.

    • #8
  9. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Wow! Shocking – This is another terrible incident. Hope you can get back with your family or somewhere where you can get some peace and support.  I read a story about the guy’s parents – his mother.  What a mess.  

    • #9
  10. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    BillJackson (View Comment):
    it’s the FBI’s show

    Why? Was there an interstate/non-local aspect to this horrible event?

    • #10
  11. BillJackson Coolidge
    BillJackson
    @BillJackson

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    BillJackson (View Comment):
    it’s the FBI’s show

    Why? Was there an interstate/non-local aspect to this horrible event?

    No, I believe it’s because it’s a mass shooting? I assumed that made it open to federal jurisdiction? I could be wrong. 

    And don’t get me wrong: I’m glad they’re here. I hope they come up with an air-tight case to bring the killer to justice.  

    I also understand they can’t really say “Oh, Friday, at precisely 2:17 p.m., we’ll be done. Take it to the bank.” But I would think they could say “It’s going to be at least 4 days …”

    I’ve decided I’m going to pack a bag with three days worth of clothes that I can just leave in my car, then when I leave, make sure I have a laptop with me. I’ll try to drive to the grocery this evening — buying only dry food or food that’ll fit in a hotel refrigerator — and, worst comes to worst, I’ll spend a night in a hotel again. Maybe for a couple of days. 

    I do feel awful about complaining when other people literally lost everything.  I cannot comprehend what it’s like to lose someone just in an instant, right in front of you like that. 

    I can do what I need to do, I support the investigation but I can’t live long-term like this.  I can’t see Highland Park — or any city/town — being home after this lease runs out. 

    • #11
  12. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    BillJackson (View Comment):
    it’s the FBI’s show

    Why? Was there an interstate/non-local aspect to this horrible event?

    He drove to Madison, Wisconsin with a rifle in the car in the intervening hours.

    Call Sunset and ask them to make up a bag of groceries.  There is a Staybridge Suites across from Costco on Willow Road in Glenview, or a extended Stay near Old Orchard mall in Skokie. Both those should have a kitchen. Or ask your employer if they have a corporate rate somewhere, or ask for some financial assistance. 

    Or call the city managers office (847-926-1000) and ask them for assistance or direction.  Make a stink.  There have to be some social services available to you.  Use them.

    You don’t have to put up with your situation, and it can’t go on much longer.  It’s awful, and I am so sorry.

    • #12
  13. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    BillJackson: Until then, I guess I have to check in with the police and FBI if I want to leave my apartment and get back in. There’s nobody telling me how long that will last. As it happens, I was never able to update my driver’s license because the secretary of state’s offices were closed because of COVID, so proving residency has been a chore.

    Showing them a utility bill with the address should help.

    Bureaucracy will keep us safe.  Good thing there is enough to go around.

    • #13
  14. BillJackson Coolidge
    BillJackson
    @BillJackson

    Hi folks, a quick update:
    First, thanks @9thdistrictneighbor … calling the city manager’s office and my apartment person again did the trick. 

    Now it seems like all the different law enforcement agencies are on the same page and it’s a simple — understandable — procedure of giving them some info/proof you live there and you’re all set. 

    I’ll just take it day-by-day, officer-by-officer from now on, counting my blessings that I’m so much more fortunate than others. 

    It’s still surreal. There are So. Many. Different. Police around me. It’s from all the surrounding towns, plus a couple that are fairly far away. Not to mention the FBI, State Police and who knows who else?

    And because I was out, I was able to really see the scale of what happened. The blood that was in my building stunned me, but seeing Central Ave — where I walk all the time — filled with police, equipment, wreckage just brought it home. It’s a small area when I walked it before, now it looks like it stretches on a great distance for some reason. 

    And I finally saw the story that I’m sure many of you saw about the 2-year-old boy who lost both his parents and I just cried so much. It was the same after September 11: I was working at the Chicago Tribune, I saw images most folks not at the Pentagon or not in Manhattan saw and I was OK. Until a couple days later when I saw something that sent me on a cry that lasted for what felt like a hours. I think tonight will be the same. 

    Thank you all so much Ricochet community. I may never meet any of you in person, but know that you were exactly what I needed at this time. You’ve all been a blessing. 

    • #14
  15. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    It is so tragic to realize that these events are never only  about those injured or killed, but all the people who now feel they have lost the needed sense of security.

    Sorry that this is where you are now, not knowing if you should stay or go.

    Prayers that you end up knowing what is best for you and am glad to know you have a chosen  church where support might be available.

     

    • #15
  16. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    BillJackson (View Comment):
    Hi folks, a quick update

    The Family Assistance Center at Highland Park High School, 433 Vine Ave., will be staffed Thursday and Friday from 9am to 9pm.  They have counselors and information about other assistance that may be available.  Have you called your church?  They are waiting for you.

     

    • #16
  17. BillJackson Coolidge
    BillJackson
    @BillJackson

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):

    BillJackson (View Comment):
    Hi folks, a quick update

    The Family Assistance Center at Highland Park High School, 433 Vine Ave., will be staffed Thursday and Friday from 9am to 9pm. They have counselors and information about other assistance that may be available. Have you called your church? They are waiting for you.

     

    Yes, my church has its small group tonight and I’ll be attending it, though likely on Zoom so I don’t have to check in and check out. Also, there’s a sizable media gauntlet between where I live and, well, anywhere and I don’t want to deal with that. 

    Thanks for the family assistance reminder. But so far, the only person I know who was affected (at least as far as I know) was a person who had a massive heart attack from the stress. So since nobody I knew was shot and I’m just one person (no family) … when/if I need counseling, I’ll pay for it myself. I don’t feel like I’ve earned the right to go something like that. I wasn’t even here. 

    But I’ve heard there’s likely to be some kind of anti-gun protest this weekend and I just don’t want to see if it gets out of hand like the ones in Chicago I lived through..  So I’ll probably head up to Wisconsin somewhere, spend some time maybe on my bike or maybe running …  just get some different scenery and fresh air and be thankful for everything I have. 

    Then Dad’s coming up next weekend and we’ll back at the racetrack, so that will be good. 

     

     

    • #17
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