“Love is the thread, the common bond we all share. When stretched globally, the world will know peace.”

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This quote was on my friend’s bracelet that she bought at Disneyland and it only seemed fitting with what is going on in my city right now.  I couldn’t stop thinking while sitting at the airport.

I know that this entry is all train of thought, but here is what I wrote on the plane.

Five and a half years ago I got on a plane to do an internship at a theme park in a city I had only ever been to once. A city I associated with wizards, princesses, castles, Shamu, and magic. In that short time of my internship, I fell in love. In love with a beautiful city. A city that held beautiful people and beautiful connections. They call it the City Beautiful and now I call that city home. I was so impacted by the love of Orlando that I packed everything I had and moved there. I have been tempted to move but could never imagine my heart belonging to another city the way it belongs to this one. Four years ago, I moved into an apartment on Orange Ave with my boyfriend. We frequented the Target and the 7/11. We had lunch at the surrounding restaurants and every night we could hear the music from Pulse nightclub from our balcony. Many times, we would see people walking home from the club as it was viewable from that balcony. Now, I see these familiar streets and places on the news as a backdrop. I see interviews with former coworkers and social media updates from my circles of friends. Expressing heartbreak, confusion, fear, and reaching for understanding. Most of all, what I see is an outpouring of love. I am reaching deep inside to understand how I feel. How can this happen? You see these things happen to other people, you see the headlines, you see the news briefs. Your heart breaks for people you don’t know and you never think it could happen to you. Second and third level connections to me were lost. Friends were trapped. Friends escaped.

I woke up in California on Sunday morning to texts asking me if I was okay. Some of these from people I hadn’t spoken to in years. The thoughts of Orlando consumed me the entire day no matter how hard I tried to be present during the vacation I was on.

 

As I write this, my plane is descending into Orlando. I know when I land the reality of the situation will hit harder. There is a surreal element to all of this. To seeing the faces you know, the streets, the place you call home on television. I know that this tragedy will not break this city. It is seen in the performers across our city that continue to allow people to escape reality and the images going viral of hearts. Our strength is seen in the vigils and the community that exist here. I remember seeing Columbine on television, 9/11, and all the other tragedies. There was a disconnect, but a heartbreak still. I remember aching. I remember seeing other cities pull together for these locations. And now my heart, my city, my friends, my community are the object of this outpouring of love. There is too much hate in this world. I can only hope that in my lifetime we will see more love. I love all of you. I am going to make a post when I arrive home with a list of ways to help that I can find. From verified charities to blood donation list. If you have any please comment below so I can include. 
I may have come to this city only associating it with the theme parks but in my list of things I have originally associated Orlando with there is one thing that will never be incorrect. Magic. Orlando is the strongest city and the love that is here. Right now.  In this time of crisis is the magic.

 

-Roxanne