6. Requiem

24 September 2020

In quar, a quickie is when you have a wee sob in between brushing your teeth and flossing. Just a few aching wails then back to dental hygiene.

I don’t know where to start with this one, so I guess I’ll start at the heart of it. I’m grieving. I’m probably severely depressed, though that doesn’t seem like an adequate word for how I’m feeling. I’m definitely in despair. I would prefer not to burden anyone with it but I can tell it’s seeping out from me regardless, so I may as well confront it.

I think it’s the fires that really broke me. We had fires in 2018, and again in 2019, so earlier this spring I was talking to a friend, wondering how bad our fire season was going to be this time. That alone is a tenderly sad thought, this acceptance that the place I call home is just going to keep burning, isn’t it? Forests will burn, people will lose their homes, people will die, animals will die, the plants, the little insects, everything. You may not know this about me, but all of my tattoos are of plants and animals you can find in California. There’s a Pacific wren on my arm; the thought of one struggling to breathe in 600 AQI breaks my heart so brutally, to say nothing of everything else.

I think too about the houseless people who have nowhere to go, even though hotels are vacant. At 200 AQI, the sky is yellowish grey and you get a headache within a minute of being outside. Some people are outside all the time. The houseless, the people who still have to go to work, the people in the strawberry fields in the central valley… none of them should be outside. And yet.

Sometimes my sadness turns into an ugly rage. Sometimes I have no patience for jokes or what I perceive as callousness, the selfishness of detached irony. I’ve already lost a friend over it. Well, more than a friend, but not quite a boyfriend. He made the innocent mistake of making light of something I was complaining about, and in an instant I suddenly nothing more to do with him. Maybe it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but everything is a big deal when ash is gently falling from the sky like horrid snow and you can stare straight at the sun if you want to. Something about that scenario makes your lizard brain start screeching with terror. I would know, it’s my third year experiencing it.

So I guess, I don’t know, I guess what I’m doing is mourning the slow death of my home. It’s all the more bitter because nothing about this is inevitable. People in power could do something, literally anything, but at best they’ll tweet about how someone should do something, literally anything, and that’s it. Part of me feels abandoned. Like we’ve all been abandoned. And while this doesn’t surprise me, it’s still sickening. It makes me start researching how to buy a gun and what to prepare in a go bag, because apparently I can only depend on myself.

I don’t want to be in that headspace at all! This was supposed to be a good year for me! I was supposed to thrive after a big breakup last year! I was supposed to hike Machu Picchu with friends, go clubbing every weekend, go back to Portugal for the first time in years, fall in love…! Do you know how many fucking dreams I had! You probably do actually, because you had them, too. I mourn the death of all those dreams.

And of course there’s everything else this year, too, but we don’t need to get into that. You already know.

So here I am, waking up early every day and doing my stupid little Duolingo lessons and going on stupid little walks and trudging through my stupid little work tasks like any of this will be worth it. Is anything worth it? That’s my darkest thought really. I don’t mean that in a suicidal way, but it’s hard to see the point of going through the motions of being a responsible adult when you’re consumed with sadness. Why go through this charade? Is it doing anything for me? Are we absolutely sure I can’t just burrow into my bed and rewatch the Sopranos for the seventh time?

I think ultimately the hardest part for me is I feel like I’ve gone through a lot of this alone, because well I do live alone and I’m single and even though I have wonderful friends with boundless love and empathy, they can’t physically be here when I find myself crying on the bathroom floor again. No one’s around to hold me while I try to process loss after loss and lie to me about how it’s all going to be okay. A part of me feels disgustingly lame for admitting it, but god, I would just love to be hugged and lied to.

In lieu of that, in lieu of any meaningful solution to any of my problems really, I find myself going to the beach more and more. The air tends to be fresher on that side of town and the beaches are big enough that I don’t worry contagion. Every time I go, I put on sunscreen as fast as possible then sprint into the water, not caring how cold it is, just letting the waves slam against me, delirious with a fleeting but sincere happiness. It’s not quite a hug, but…