Aug 27, 2009

It happened last Friday night, around ten minutes before 11. A 13-year-old girl left her home.

This was in Palo Alto, the home of the Stanford Cardinal. The Cambridge, Mass and the Cambridge, UK of California. If California has the 8th largest economy in the world, roughly speaking, Palo Alto is the cowling on the intellectual engine that drives it. It is the cradle of Internet startup civilization.

It is also the center of the known world for many kids looking not merely for higher education but the highest education. And for a moment we will put aside East Palo Alto, which is the dark side of the moon, which is the chaos next to the order.

And so this young girl leaves her home — the details are not clear still — and walks past or near her school, and then on to the tracks that hold the commuter trains that run up and down the peninsula, between San Jose and San Francisco, at 60-70 miles an hour....

Her school is Gunn High. A public school but for all intents and purposes and despite the good feeling liberal parents may derive, private.... This is one of those places where your daughter may be in 3 AP sections and be completely distraught because her friends are in 5. This is one of those schools where you get into NYU and your life is over. This is one of cookers where you are the best and the brightest by definition but if you are not the best and brightest you have failed, you have betrayed the trust, you have not climbed to the summit after all. That you may have EQ to match is no consolation. That your life will unfold like the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz does not matter.

So this girl goes to the tracks and when she sees the train coming she steps over the rail — is she facing toward the train or away? I don't know. Is she sitting or standing? I don't know. All I know is that she is in the darkness, alone, recklessly, courageously, confidently, feeling the leading edge of smithereens, the engineer's horn, the roaring, the wind, and then the meteorite itself.

(to be continued)


Anjuli said...

I keep coming back to read part two- I don't want it to end the way I think it will- but yet I come back needing to know how it ends.

Anonymous said...

And you get great satisfaction writing of what you imagine is going on in this poor girl's last moments? And the point of this is what? Don't you realize that by writing about what she did, in such imaginative detail, that you are potentially contributing to yet another child copycatting this. Sounds so easy, so dramatic, so magnetic. And why are you stringing out the girl's demise (oops, a spoiler!)? Does it give you pleasure to hold her life over the tracks, as it were? How would you like it if this god forbid happened to you if you had a 13 year old girl who did this? Would you want some writer dissecting it, leaving your daughter hanging between life and death? If enough people read your blog, you could be responsible for helping glorify her suicide to the point where someone else might try it. Would you want that on your shoulders? Let this family cope with this devastating tragedy without your input -- unless you can do something that would truly help others. And I can't think of what that would be.

Anjuli said...

I beg to differ with 'anonymous'- to me this blog entry was a 'wake up call'- to become aware of those around us. The ones we think are "ok" - doing "just fine"- are they? Should we be more aware? more alert? could we, in fact, be able to stop such an encounter? We all must wake up and not talking about such things puts us in a further trance of oblivion.