Stop number thirty-two on the 50 States Against Bullying campaign brought me to Oklahoma for the very first time. When I arrived, I had an hour before a booksigning at Best of Books, a great indie bookstore. After the signing, I went out to dinner with the bookstore owners and faculty from the school where I'd be speaking. I left the dinner with some inside jokes about granola and a fictional girl named Rita. (No, I can't tell you the jokes. They're inside jokes!)
The next day, I woke up early to be interviewed on an Oklahoma City news program, which you can watch here. Then I had an entire day to do sightseeing!
And laundry. I also had to do laundry.
First, I went to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. There were plenty of beautiful paintings throughout the museum, but photographs weren't allowed of my favorites. But upon entering the museum, you're hit with the very effective sculpture, The End of the Trail.
From there, I went to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. I will always remember where I was the day the American-bred terrorists bombed the Murrah federal building. I was working at a shoe store, and that's all anyone could talk about that day, employees and customers. To see the site of the bombing in person, and the record of the event captured by this museum, it brought me right back to those emotions. And sometimes it is necessary to be strongly reminded of these tragedies.
The museum contains a dramatic timeline leading up to the event, reminding us how beautiful that day was in Oklahoma City. And then the explosion happened at 9:02am, which is when this clock stopped ticking.
It then follows the search for survivors, the uniting of the citizens, and the capture of the men who destroyed so much.
Outside, it's nearly impossible to speak while taking in the memorial. On one side of the water is a large doorway labeled 9:01, marking the time before the explosion. On the other side is a matching doorway labeled 9:03, marking the time when healing had to begin.
In between, across the water, are chairs representing all of the lives lost.
I could never describe how moved I was the entire time I spent at the museum and memorial, and how much I felt in a daze long afterward. It's a place everyone should visit at some point.
The next day, though, was the reason for my time in Oklahoma. I arrived at Santa Fe High School, and even though my name wasn't on their marquee, they accidentally left a tribute to my book. Just like on the title graphic of Thirteen Reasons Why, the numbers (1 and 3, even) were in red!
At my booksigning at the bookstore two days before, there happened to be a limousine outside. I don't know why it was there, but several students who were there thought it was for me. Isn't that sweet? So I had to let them down by saying I'm not limo-worthy...yet!
But I do often get special parking for my rental car at schools.
#ReasonsWhyYouMatter cards draped across the hallway inside the school.
Sarah Ondak, a student at the high school, posted this photo from near the end of my presentation. I know I use my hands a lot when I speak, which makes me feel more comfortable on stage, but it always makes my photos look silly. But that's cool. It's all good! I'm fine with that.
And here are the students, who had so many great questions when I was done.
The owner of Best of Books took this shot of my signing line. This is always one of my favorite parts of a school visit, because it allows me to speak one-on-one to the readers. Some of them nearly had me in tears with what they shared, while others had me busting up.
And some of them boggled my mind with how much they took notes throughout my book.
a student's book
a teacher's book