Look up at the sky and it will tell you some kind of story. Like yesterday’s super moon, for instance, or a glimpse of the Milky Way on a particularly clear night — it will literally take your breath away if you let it.
I’ve always found the sky to be vibrant at sunset, especially from the ninth floor at the Univision 34 building near LAX. Last autumn really brought out the most silky rose-plum hues that rushed to meet ardent ambers. Me, I was just lucky enough to observe the overt flirtation.
“It’s just terrible about all of these fires, though,” my friend Eddie bemoaned in between drags of a cigarette. I nodded, keeping my mouth shut, all too aware that addictions don’t stop just because half of the city has gone up in smoke. “Yeah,” I started, looking down at Henry, my dog. He looked back up at me, his tail wagging in presumed empathy towards my ethical predicament. “Yeah, it’s pretty bad.” But what else could be done?
I had run into Eddie outside of my apartment building, and he ended up joining us on an improptu, abbreviated walk around the neighborhood. It was a beautiful day, save for how the sunlight forced its way through the noxious air, not quire unlike Playdoh through a fun factory. These damned fires. We expected them every year, more so than the rain.
The thing is, the rain did come, too soon afterward, quite honestly, and did a lot of damage – to people’s homes, their lives. And then December brought about the largest fire in California history, according to Wikipedia, ar least. In showing its true colors right above our heads, the notion of a merry Christmas had undoubtedly been pushed well out of reach.
And what can be done?, I wondered.
I was so relieved at the rise in rainfall positively impacting a long-standing drought towards the beginning of last year, but the high didn’t last long. The idea that we humans have done insurmountable and likely irreversible damage is a total mood-killer. All the enjoyable instances — a gentle breeze, cool summer rain, or breathtaking sunrise — are likely just manifestations of circumstances borne of capitalism’s bottom line. Or perhaps that’s just me being cynical.
I believe in global warming. That said, it doesn’t need me to believe in it to be real.
We made our way down the block. Henry’s ecru coat had taken on the color of yams, and Eddie’s words were starting to gurgle over pockets of mucus in his throat. There wasn’t much to say and I wanted to take a nap before heading to work. It was time to go inside.
I awoke 45 minutes later from a fitful sleep, perhaps in the middle of REM. My surroundings felt heavy, disrupted, despite having kept the windows closed. The apartment building was old, on the side of both charming and barely hanging on. Pollutants were likely seeping in through what would be the leaky living room ceiling, if it ever rained enough.
I glanced at my phone on the nightstand — forty minutes ’til noon. It was time to get ready. Daydreaming and wondering and worrying was only going to make me late. I showered, got dressed, and made my way down the block to where my hatchback was parked.
“When the hills of Los Angeles are burning, palm trees are candles in the murder wind.”
Downtown, the bitcoin-and-blockchain mixer was packed and getting more congested by the half hour. Billed as a rooftop party, it was far more a bridge-type situation with a view. Taking a quick promo break from my place in the corner of the vendor floor plan, I strained to see the tops of the Wells Fargo and AEG buildings. Looking back at eye-level, I noticed a thin, charcoal-colored layer of smoke circling its way around an outdoor lamp just above the crowd. Bored with the attendees, I thought about Eddie, and the state of our lungs.
“So many lives are on the breeze; even the stars are ill at ease, and Los Angeles is burning.”
(To be continued…)