Normally, I just can't tell you enough about Bloomington.
I can tell you what it's like to cycle through the setting of Breaking Away. I can show you the house that they used in that film--it's a few blocks from my house, on the way to the library.
I can tell you how I used to lie on my stomach on the living room floor and watch the video of John Cougar Mellencamp's "Jack and Diane":
The Tasty Freeze? It's actually called The Chocolate Moose--we also walk there pretty much every week for a moose horn and a couple of blizzards.
I can tell you how it felt to be in a crowd of people standing in a club here, standing right in front of the stage, in fact, singing along to the Old 97s' "Bloomington" just as loudly as they, themselves, were singing it.
I can tell you how it feels to go anywhere, anywhere at all in Bloomington and always, always know somebody there. And even if I don't know somebody personally, I know somebody that they know, and therefore I know all their business anyway.
Unfortunately, I also can tell you what it's like when a professor is murdered one Christmas, and what it's like to have my husband part of the jury that tried his murderer. Bloomington's a small town, you know? Professor Belton lived a block from my old house, in my old neighborhood. He entered the English department as I was leaving it, and many of my grad school friends were his friends. One of my mom friends knew him in a different context--he chatted with her and held her baby in his arms two nights before he was murdered. One of the other people invited to the party the night before his death, this party that was gone over and over and over again during the trial, is the owner of a downtown cafe, who walked in same fashion show that Syd was in.
See? Small town.
Stuff like that messes you up. You want to know that your town is safe, and not that a murderer walked right past the house that you once lived in with your baby daughter. You want to know that the friendly dude selling you organic salad greens at the farmer's market is not going to kill a friend of a friend. You want to know that your husband isn't going to have to be in the jury for a murder trial, and you don't know if he'll come home tonight because he can't leave until a verdict has been reached. Selfish little wants, I know, but you know that you want them, too.
I thought that I would have plenty of years to recover from that scary business, but now I can tell you more. I can tell you what it feels like to know that a pretty, petite, little college student disappeared off the street as she was walking home early one morning, just downtown. I can tell you what it feels like to see the posters all over town begging for information on her disappearance, to try to find a babysitter so that I can volunteer in the search party, to scan ditches and bushes and doorways for anything suspicious as I run my errands. I can tell you how Sydney's day camp is just across the street from Lauren Spierer's downtown apartment, and how navigating all those satellite trucks and police cars and reporters on camera just makes me so sad. I can tell you that I've already had the conversation with Willow, many times these past two weeks, about exactly what she will do to keep herself safe in college. I can even tell you, because this is Bloomington, after all, and I know everybody, that I know one of the "persons of interest" in Lauren Spierer's disappearance. These kids are all IU students--somebody had to teach them freshman comp, you know?
I want to tell you that this isn't my town that this happens in, not Bloomington, but of course that isn't true. Instead, I'll simply tell you this:
This is Lauren Spierer:
link to download Lauren Spierer's flyer, so that you can display and pass it on.
This is a white truck that was seen circling the block near where she may have been at the time of her disappearance:
This is something terrible that has happened in my town. If you can help us, please do.