Today was Sandra Cantu’s memorial, held in the gym of the same high school that her killer graduated from not that many years ago. Tracy’s a small town.

A month ago, when people asked me where I grew up and I replied, “Tracy, CA” I was met with mostly blank stares. No more. Now, thanks to the tragic case of Sandra Cantu and the bizarre arrest of her killer (and her Sunday School teacher) Melissa Huckaby, pretty much everybody knows about Tracy.

It’s a surreal feeling. The house I grew up in and where my parents still live is two blocks from where Sandra and Melissa Huckaby lived. My college boyfriend lived in that Mobile Home park, I was over there all the time. I’ve driven through the exact spot that Sandra was skipping past in that heartrending video a hundred times, albeit not for 15 years. But it looks exactly the same.

Sandra went to Jacobson Elementary, where my second cousin taught first grade for ten years, and where my brother-in-law’s aunt taught kindergarten. My niece and nephew both went to Jacobsen. In fact, my brother-in-law’s aunt actually *was* my nephew’s kindergarten teacher. And did I mention that that aunt’s sister was *my* second grade teacher? That’s what Tracy’s like. That’s why this doesn’t make any sense.

Of course, it’s not like it would make sense anywhere. But it seems to be especially non-sensical in the bucolic little town where I grew up. It seems to be something that would be so much more fitting happening in the cesspool I live in now (no offense, Los Angeles) than sleepy little Tracy.

When Melissa Huckaby was working at Food 4 Less, my brother-in-law and my boyfriend (different brother-in-law AND different boyfriend) were both working there too. I used to stop there at least twice a week for groceries on my way home from work, and was often in her line – chatted with her like she was a normal person! If you asked me then, I wouldn’t have said there was anything different about her than any of my boyfriend’s other co-workers. WOW, was I wrong!

My friend Jd says that I shouldn’t feel weird about not having noticed anything different about her, that you shouldn’t expect to be able to see the good and bad inside people. And in LA, sure, that makes sense. But, in Tracy? It feels like you should.