Ryenne Clancy is trying to step back into her normal routine.
She has to, she said. With a midterm and a statistics test both scheduled for this week, the Boise State University junior didn’t want to miss any more classes.
That’s because she spent last week at home near Santa Barbara, Calif., after spending a weekend at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. She was there last Sunday night, Oct. 1, when Stephen Paddock opened fire on the festival from his suite at the Mandalay Bay, killing dozens and wounding hundreds more.
“We had this all planned out. It was supposed to be a whole group of us, but only two of us bought tickets before it sold out,” Clancy said Sunday, a week after the shooting.
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The 20-year-old was excited to see country singer Jason Aldean. Before she knew it, gunfire erupted, and she and friend Alyssa Grock, a fellow BSU student, fled to a portable toilet, where they stayed hunkered down for around 30 minutes before another concertgoer helped usher them to safety.
“I didn’t sleep a single second all night,” she said.
The two were supposed to fly back to Boise early last Monday. Instead, the 20-year-old headed home to California.
Back to Boise
Clancy landed in Boise on Sunday morning with her mother and younger brother in tow. She saw some friends, met up with sorority sisters and turned her attention to her studies — occupational therapy and psychology — once again.
But things are not normal.
“People talk to me as if I’ve moved past it already,” Clancy said, but she’s not sure when or if she will.
She saw a counselor in California and plans to pursue counseling in Boise, too, whether through campus services or elsewhere. Right now she finds it hard to sleep, and when she does doze off, she wakes frequently from nightmares.
“At first it was just replaying what happened,” Clancy said. “But now it’s changed: different people or different outcomes.”
She’s worried about how she’ll react to certain noises — fireworks, especially, which is what she and Grock thought they were hearing at first when the shots were fired.
Clancy said crowds now make her more nervous than they did before. She finds herself being hypervigilant, looking up into windows and keeping an eye on random strangers.
“I just have this feeling that someone might hurt people,” she said."Treat them like a normal person": Boise woman coping one week after shooting
Sharing her story
Clancy tries to avoid news about the shooter. She hasn’t looked at any photos or watched any videos from the scene, aside from photographs of the people who were killed or injured.
“I won’t,” she said. “I don’t need to. I saw enough.”
It’s been only a week, but she’s told the story “so many times.” To family, to a counselor, to friends and acquaintances in person and on social media.
“People I haven’t talked to in a long time have reached out to me. I’ve learned a lot about who cares and who just wants to be nosy,” she said. “(But) people are more worried than anything else.”
While she doesn’t always mind talking about that night, she said she doesn’t want to relive the shooting every single day. And she hopes people will choose their words carefully, both in person and online.
“People are very insensitive or ignorant with their words. You weren’t there. You don’t know what you would have done,” she said.
As Clancy eases back into classes, work and sorority gatherings, she’s hopeful that people will treat her the same way they always have.
“When people see me now, they stare,” Clancy said. “It’s pity. And I don’t want their pity.”
If it’s sympathy that others want to offer, Clancy said it’s best directed at the people who were injured or the families whose loved ones were killed.
“I will get through this. I don’t know if some of those others will,” she said.
Clancy said the shooting gave her perspective about how people, herself included, react to tragedy. Part of that is how quickly mass shootings fade from the public eye. In the week since the Las Vegas massacre, Clancy said, she’s already noticed a decline in the number of people talking about it.
“I feel like people are going to move on from it quickly,” she said. “Every few years it’s the worst mass shooting in history.”
She knows there will be a time when most people hardly think of the shooting at all. She knows there will be times — fireworks shows on the Fourth of July, for instance — when she’ll recall the shooting more sharply than ever. She’ll cross those bridges when she gets there, she said.
For now, normal sounds nice.
“I want to put my feelings into other stuff,” said Clancy. “I want to really focus on helping people so no one else has to go through (what I went through).”