Pop-Up Storms

We are doing a whirlwind family tour this summer to introduce Timothy to the farther-flung reaches of our immediate family. Fortunately for us, that really only goes as far west as central Kentucky, where we made our first stop to see my sister and her family.

On Friday, we were having lunch when it started raining and thundering outside. Unaware it was supposed to rain, I checked my weather app to see how long it would last. Watching the radar history, I commented that it seemed to come out of nowhere. My brother-in-law said that that’s what they do there—sometimes from this way, sometimes from that, sometimes out of nowhere, and in the heat of the summer, you're not surprised when it comes.

I thought about that again on Saturday when I looked at my phone that evening to read about the shooting in El Paso. The popular term for it is stochastic terror. You can't predict anything relevant about a mass shooting—where, how many, by whom—except that it will happen. Or at least will happen with some probability over a given period of time El Paso, Poway, Pittsburgh, Dayton (at the time yet to happen), Sandy Hook, Dallas, whichever ones you want to add on the list, whichever ones you can even remember. You're not surprised that it happens, you just don’t know when and where.

Of course it's not exactly true that there are no common threads between any of the shootings, just as it's not the case that any place expects these pop up showers out of nowhere. That's why I spent a while awake Saturday night, thinking of my (Mexican-American) nieces and sister-in-law, wondering if and when LA County is due for the big one, and not entirely sure how much safer suburban Detroit is in the long run.