A thank you, to Cheryl White’s mom.

I’ve got a signed copy of Katie Hnida’s book Still Kicking on the table in front of me.

One of the things about moving is you get a chance to go through things from your past, and maybe reflect a little on what was going on in your life at the time. I remember feeling out of place, as I took up the last place in line at the UNM bookstore where Katie was having a book signing. I’m not a football fan. When Katie’s story came out in the papers, somehow, like many others, it took me back to something in my own life that I never quite learned to deal with.

I sought counseling at the Albuquerque Rape Crisis Center, almost forty years after the fact. I only went a few times, I don’t think there really is much they could do for me. I learned that any counseling I would seek would probably want me to address my drinking before going further.

Last night I was looking at an old picture of me, a “before” picture, and started to write a twitter message:

cheryl_white

“The first girl I kissed’s mom stopped the guy who was raping me. If anyone knows Cheryl White (’65) from NW Detroit, tell her mom: Thank you.”

I started crying, I didn’t send the message.

So, this morning, I’m sitting at the table with this book in front of me, and deciding to write down the stupid details of this stupid little thing. Technically, what happened to me, I was told by the Crisis center, was rape, but it was stopped before it got real bad. So, I feel a little stupid that I feel sorry for myself for something that puts me in the same category with people who didn’t have someone like Cheryl’s mom to save them. I don’t know if I’m just weak, that I fall back on a crutch, or what.

I used to ride my bike around the block. One day, a man said let’s go play catch. We went into the alley and we threw a tennis ball back and forth. The man threw the ball over my head. When I went to retrieve it, he knocked me down and shoved his penis in my mouth. I bit it and started screaming. Luckily it was behind the house where a friend’s mom lived, she heard me screaming and came out, and the man ran away. I cried as my friend’s mom walked me and my bike down the alley to my house.

I don’t remember telling my mom that he was trying to steal my belt buckle, but apparently I did. And apparently things would’ve gotten much worse if my friend’s mom didn’t come out when she did. I didn’t tell anyone for decades the other details.

So, that’s that.

A Little Outside the Lines

You know something? I don’t know about you, but I’ve known some people who didn’t fit inside the lines. Maybe it was a conscious choice, maybe it was desperation, I don’t know. It’s hard for me to judge where you came from and how you see things. I try to stay inside the lines, but it wasn’t always that way.

The first time I ever visited a strip club was with a high school friend, and the mom of one of the strippers. You know something? It was weird, and foreign to me. But when the girl went on break, she came and sat down with me, my buddy and her mom. Years later, her brother kidnapped a girl, (he was her ex, I found out later), I dropped off after a night out. Nothing like reading about the girl you dropped off the night before in the paper the next day. That night turned out okay, she didn’t get hurt, but another night things didn’t turn out so good. I couldn’t get it right with that girl, and blamed myself every time something happened to her. And things happened to her too often. It sucked.

But not to make too much of the sordid details of my life, the point is, a lot of us know people like that. Maybe someone we care about, maybe just a common acquaintance, but someone. Someone trying to get it right, whatever version of right they’re after.

So why am I bringing all of this up? I think most people who pay attention to the news here in Albuquerque have a take on the tragedy unfolding on the south west side of town. After reading what little is available on the girls who are missing, or have been identified, we’ve all gotten a little closer to them. I’ve stared at the satellite photo, realising, that I’ve probably looked at that same photo while digitizing infrastructure details to new subdivisions in 2005. And it haunts me. I would’ve had no reason to look down the power line road, I was only looking for the information from the new subdivisions.

The details we’ve all become so familiar with are, in fact, an important part of the police investigation. But in no way do the details lessen the responsibility of the police to investigate the heinous crimes, and hopefully come up with the answers, and perhaps even justice, that the families crave. These were human beings, people just like people many of us know or have known. No less deserving of justice than those who live their entire lives entirely within the lines.

I think all but the most callous have come to realise this, and it is entirely understandable and forgiveable for a grieving family member to cry out in protest at the repeated obsession with the few seamy details of these victims’ lives.

I come across comments on the internet from people claiming to have known one of the victims, and it never fails to pull at my heart a little, if not more. I’ve read the way Jeremy Jojola has tried to find information outside of the police reports, and am a little inspired at his efforts to humanize the victims outside of their arrest reports. There’s nothing we can do to bring back these victims’ lives, but there is something we can do in how we remember them, how we tell their stories. Not all of the details are going to be inside the lines, and indeed, must be told, if we’re going to get the full picture. And the full picture is much more than just those parts that are outside the lines.

These were human beings who probably befell a violent end to their lives. Any hope for a better life was most likely wrongly taken from them. They deserve the same respect any other victim deserves.

edit: I don’t think I’ve said anything that wasn’t written elsewhere about this, and feel like I should credit Jeremy Jojola’s blog, as I’ve read it, and feel I’ve pretty much said the same thing as he’s already said.

Amole Mesa: A crime scene revealed in aerial photos?

Just something to think about, should you be looking at aerial photographs as part of your job. It’s entirely possible that I looked at the 2004 aerial when working on GIS at the City.

Here is the Amole Mesa site in 2002:

Here, the site shows tire tracks leading to a couple areas of disturbed earth in 2004:

Here, the site is shown graded over in 2006:

More info:
cocoposts
mesamystery.com
West Mesa Mystery