Isla Vista massacre gave me a new understanding, appreciation of life

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Michael Narciso, Staff Writer

If I could describe my childhood in one word, it would be fear.

I was raised in Isla Vista, a community that is heavily populated by college students. 

I’m not here to lie, Isla Vista is a fun place for parties and excitement.

For a child, however, it was a community full of danger and bad influences. 

Before we moved, my parents and I were living on the west side of Santa Barbara. 

This chapter of my life did not last long due to my parents constantly arguing. Eventually, they divorced after six years together.

My mother and I had no choice but to move in with my grandparents in Isla Vista. 

This was the start of a new chapter, one I was definitely not expecting. 

I was terrified the first night I slept there. I had no clue what was going on outside. 

My grandparents said the noise was standard for living near student housing.

There was yelling in the streets, couches burning and glass shattering. It was full chaos right outside my window, and I was petrified.

Despite all this, I was able to make friends and find moments of peace. The friends I made living in Isla Vista have stayed with me to this day, and their support has helped me through some difficult moments in my life. 

One of the biggest moments came on May 23, 2014, and changed Isla Vista for me forever.

My friends and I were walking near the markets of Isla Vista. 

We thought it was just another day until we heard the screams. 

Seconds later we heard what we thought were firecrackers going off not far from us. 

We crouched down behind some parked cars, holding each other as we waited for the mayhem to end. 

This is it, I thought. I was going to die young. 

With my eyes shut tight, I laid on the sidewalk, pleading for it all to end so I could go home. 

Suddenly the street fell silent, and all I could hear were sirens in the distance as I started to run back home. 

Watching the news later, I learned about Elliot Rodger and all the sordid details of that day. Rodger murdered six people because he felt he deserved women’s’ attention. 

People going about their normal lives, walking down the street or sitting at a deli, died at the hands of a lunatic simply because they were there.

This incident helped me realize that tomorrow is never promised. Every day is an opportunity to live your life to the fullest. 

By the time I got to high school, my mother and I moved out of Isla Vista and moved to the eastside of Santa Barbra with my stepdad. 

Don’t get me wrong, Isla Vista will always have a special place in my heart. But living there and witnessing such a tragic incident has changed me profoundly.

Although I would never move back, I’m grateful for the community I found there.