I grew up in a small town where nearly everyone had guns. Hunters dressed in camouflage from head to toe with orange vests were extremely common place. It was part of our small town culture. They even offered a hunter's safety program in my high school PE class. At the end of the semester someone from the Department of Natural Resources came out with a sling on the back of his truck, and the class spent an entire period shooting clay pidgins with shotgun. My first time shooting a gun, I hit 8 out of 10! (All the games of "Duck Hunt" on the original Nintendo paid off) That was more than 10 years ago.
In spite of the many gun owners in my life, when I hear people talking about gun ownership I have visions of NRA rallies where everyone seems to be angry that the government doesn't want them to carry guns that could stop a tank. The argument between "we have the right to bear arms" vs. "nothing justifies you carrying a small antimissile assault weapon" will be a never ending debate right along with border control, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and paper or plastic.
When we found out that Patrick's cancer was back, I was filled with so many emotions. The two major ones being fear and anger. I pride myself not being a scaredy cat. I wanted pet spiders as a kid. I would be the first one in line in class to hold the huge snake when the other kids were in tears; and jumping off of a high branch into the darkest water you have ever seen was second nature. (Now trap me in a room with Rush Limbaugh, and that would strike terror into my heart) But the fear of watching Patrick have to go through what he went through last year was terrifying. The possibility that he might loose his job. The fear that he might have to have God awful treatment that would heal him by nearly killing him. The fear that he ….. Well let's just leave it that there is a lot if fear in my heart. Then comes the anger. Not the anger that I am used to. I have been known to cuss the person that cuts me off in traffic, or to risk getting into a fight when I see someone being taken advantage of. Even the anger I felt the time I was fired from a great job because I did the right thing pales in comparison. No, this is rage. How dare this happen again. How dare this unwelcome intruder invade our family again. Thanks to my love affair with the thesaurus and a liberal arts education I could insert a plethora of expletives here, but seeing that there may be mixed company reading this, I won't.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that bottling up such heated emotions is bad for you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was looking for an outlet, when my twin sister asked, "What are you doing Wednesday night?" "I have choir practice. Why?" She said "Erin, you need to skip practice. I want you to come with me. I want to take you to the firing range. I want you to get extra dressed up for work, put on your sexiest black heels, and meet me at Shooter's Choice at 6:30." I rarely miss practice, so I figured I could miss one night. My three sisters (Leigh Ann, Becca, and my sister-in-love Amie) met us there. Wednesday is "Ladies Night" (which absolutely cracks me up that a firing range has a ladies night), and so there is no fee. BYOG or you can rent a gun there. My stepdad gave Becca his gun after she started working at her law firm. They keep a gun at the office, and Becca said that she would like to have one. Seeing that his hasn't used it in nearly 15 years it made perfect sense.
The gun is a 357 magnum single action revolver. It's huge. In order for that gun to be a concealed weapon, Becca would have to put it into a suitcase!
I feel pretty out of place when we get there. Dress, heels, stockings, makeup- the works. Becca is (as always) dressed to kill (pun intended). We pick out a target. There were several options - a blue silhouette, an orange silhouette, and a picture of a guy who resembled the uni-bomber. We both go with blue. She tells the man behind the counter "I need to get a box of ammunition" "Yes mam. Do you want the magnums or .38s." he replies, and as cool as if she was asking for the salt to be passed down the table, she says "I'll have the 38s. They don't kicks as bad as the magnums." We put on our protective glasses and earphones and walk into the firing area. In spite of the headphones, I jump several times as I walked past the people firing. The pops were so loud you could feel them. Becca gives me a quick lesson on the gun, loads it and I pop of the first round. The gun kicked back on me, but not nearly as much as I expected. I had an excited rush of adrenaline, and I giggle a little. I cock the gun again and again and fire off each of the 5 remaining rounds. I wasn't counting, so I cock the gun a seventh time, aim and squeeze the trigger - click. I think the fact that the gun didn't fire shocked me more than if it had. I run my target back to me, and six rounds to the chest. A little low and to the left, but still pretty doggoned good for the first time shooting a handgun. Becca takes her turn, and as she is firing Leigh Ann and Amie arrive. They were both in Becca's "dress code" of sex kitten. We all take turns unloading the gun six rounds at a time. As men walked by, they would stop and talk to us. All of them said "Oh my God! What are you girls shooting?" The four well dressed young professionals were shooting the biggest gun in the place. It was, for lack of a better word, very …. well, sexy.
Before it was over we had gone through two boxes of bullets, and we were all a little breathy. It reminded me of the time in the first grade that Jarrod Cockfield ran around kissing all of the girls on the playground. Every girl reacted the same way "EWW!!" Every girl except for Becca, Amie and me. We chased him down, fussed at him for being an inconsiderate stinky boy, and if I remember correctly, he got a bloody nose. We were strong, independent, empowered non-conformist women well before our time. Leigh Ann, in wonderful big-sister style, taught us well.
I said this all to say, that sometimes release comes in the most unexpected places. Sometimes you have to do WHATEVER it takes to maintain your sanity, There were no candles, and no hot bubble baths Wednesday night. No manicure, or pedicure. It was filled with the smell of gun powder. Tomorrow might just call for some fancy bath salts infused with lemongrass, some yoga, or maybe even some transcendental mediation. The point is, don't feel bad about getting your fear, rage, sadness, or that feeling of overwhelming helplessness out of your system in the way that works best for you in that moment.