Oakland warehouse fire touches Sonoma State student

Commentary

 

It was a Friday night in San Bruno when my childhood friend, Michela Gregory, and her boyfriend Alex Vega decided to hop on BART and attend a party in Oakland. The party was being hosted in a warehouse called the Ghost Ship. At 10:12 p.m. Gregory posted a video on Snapchat of her enjoying what looked like a rave. There was loud techno music in the background and the scene was dark with little flickers of light here and there. A little over an hour later, she was gone. 

She and Alex were two of the 36 people who died in the terrible blaze on Dec. 2. It was because of Michela this tragedy is all the more personal and painful for me.

Michela and I met through the Millbrae softball league we played for since we were five. Our brothers were also the same age too and attended middle school and high school, so our families have been connected for years through us. What happened as a friendship on the field turned into best friends outside of it as well. We went to school together for three years at Taylor Middle School where our relationship became closer and closer. We ended up going to separate high schools after the eighth grade, but didn’t change our relationship at all and still spent just about every weekend together. 

If I had one word to describe Michela it would be unforgettable. From the way she smiled, to her contagious laugh, friendly personality, original style and love to always be different. She stood out from everyone, due to her out-of-the-box style and makeup that not many can pull off. he had a true pep in her step because she walked on the balls of her feet everywhere she went. 

Michela changed my life in more ways than one could ever imagine. Our relationship could be best described by family, friends or outsiders looking in as goofy. She taught me a lot about myself growing up as her childhood best friend. Through the difficult times in middle school and the daunting days of high school, Michela was always there for me; whether it was while playing a sport, walking the halls of Taylor Middle School in Millbrae, our weekend adventures, the videos we would spend hours making or lastly our endless talks during sleepovers.

Throughout the first two years of high school it wasn’t easy for me. I cared too much of how people perceived me and it showed in my actions and desire to be skinny. Michela would always tell me not to care what others thought and that I was beautiful no matter what. It was because of her that I overcame my eating disorder. 

In 2010 was the year we attended the Bell Game which took place at South City High School. The Bell Game is an annual game played every year with South City and the rival school El Camino. This is where she introduced me to one her guy friends, who would forever change my life. If it wasn’t for Michela I would’ve never met this guy who I spent the next four years with and though we may not be together anymore, he is still my best friends to this day. 

Two years later, I was fortunate enough to meet the love of her life, Alex Vega, on a few occasions. I remember it like it was yesterday when Michela sat with me in the Rolling Pin Donut parking lot in San Bruno told me about this boy Alex she was talking to. But little did I know that Vega would have such a huge impact on her life.

Alex and Michela were not only a young couple in love, but to everyone that knew their relationship, knew they were soulmates. They complemented one another so well when it came to their similar interests and ways of life. 

A part of me wants to be angry with many people involved with this incident, but the other part knows that being upset is not what Michela would have wanted, and it isn’t going to bring her back. She was the most free-spirited, loving and non-judgmental person I knew. Going to raves and dancing was something she loved, her hobby. So anger is not the solution. 

Michela may be gone, but she will never be forgotten. She touched so many lives and brought happiness to those who needed it the most. They keep saying, “you’re in a better place now,” which saddens me. In a perfect world the better place is here with your family and friends, who loved and supported you. 

But what comforts me is knowing Alex, the boy she spent the last five years with, was right there beside her. When Michela was found she was still clothed with her backpack on. It became difficult for investigators to find Alex and this was because he was found on top of her. During her last moments, Alex did everything he could to protect her. Love does conquer all, and I hope everyone can find their Alex. 

This incident has brought families and communities closer. When situations like this happen, people realize how fragile and precious life is. 

Overall the reality of this tragic incident is tomorrow is never promised.