From My Window Once Again, With Feeling

It is going to be one of those days. The fog has rolled in overnight and I woke to a thick blank grey white sky and a haze blanketing the city. We have had a few nice, dry warm days where the sun forgets that it is shining on San Francisco and instead shines generally in a Californian-bright way. Not today. Today is cool verging on cold and it feels as if the day is already dying, even though it has barely been born.

It never feels like a mere day can do too much damage. After all what can change in a day? Perhaps not for you do days sneak up and attack. For me, however, a day can be a dangerous proposition. What is calm and safe this morning can turn treacherous and evil by night. Every section of time I make it through without major disaster, or minor inconvenience and every shade of shit in between, is a victory. I don’t dare hope to be victorious today.

It is the usual round of faces and suspects outside. Chaddy-looking young white men in heavy sweaters and khaki shorts trudge towards their job at some doomed start up that still pays for the exorbitant city rents and there is always a woman with flowers or hauling a pot plant home. Sometimes that woman is me. I can’t resist Trader Joes cheap little pots with mother in law’s tongue, or a spider plant, tulips (not from Amsterdam, but from a hothouse in San Diego), or hyacinths. I love the smell of hyacinths, but not all hyacinths are equal in scent. I had a white one that smelt gorgeous, a stunted purple that barely had a scent at all, and a pink one that made me sneeze. They do not last long, a matter of days, perhaps a week with careful placement on my window seat bench, which has turned into my impromptu garden.

Outside workmen make as much noise as they humanly are capable of making. Zeus himself must surely look down approvingly at the Thunder that is dragged out of concrete mixers and steel rebar by these determined men and their filthy machines. I try and ignore them. I throw on my headphones knowing that they will stop relatively early, that their entire reason for living is up wake up the city, and as soon as we are all thoroughly awake they will stop and go home to rest before making more thunder happen tomorrow at the break of dawn.

I was sitting at my table yesterday, eating a late breakfast of homemade gluten free vegan pancakes, a cup of tea and a bowl of miso soup with a handful of scallions thrown in the bowl. It is what I eat every morning. Sometimes there are a few blueberries thrown into the pancake. Other days I might have a banana. The Boy makes them for me, bringing me a tray balancing a cup of tea next to the soup, and worrying at me about taking my vitamins that morning. He worries about me. He worries we are all going to get smallpox after Bill Gates mentioned that he thought that would be the next pandemic. It scares him. He talks about it in terrified tones.

Sometimes I think it unfair to predict such terror. Smallpox has been wiped out, there has been an effective vaccine for years, and although it is a horrifying disease, I see little reason to think it will return, outside of a war or a terrorist attack. Isn’t that what the governmental controllers are meant to do? Protect us? Stop this kind of stuff from happening, instead of terrifying a young man with enough to worry about, and scaring the rest of our traumatized selves that we might be hit with something more awful next time around the pandemic merry-go-round. I told the Boy we are tough, we would get through it as neither of us mixes with other people very much, and we would lock down hard if it started to spread. He bought an extra bag of rice with his pocket money. I can’t help but feel we are all being manipulated by fear. It is a creeping feeling that starts in my spine and crawls up to my brain scratching at the door and begging to be examined. I push it away, telling it that such thoughts would get me in trouble if my thoughts could be projected on a screen to be seen by all. Between this blog and twitter I might be damning myself on two fronts.

There are very few people who still wear a mask to walk down the street outside. I always do. I always go outside encased in masks and nitrile gloves. Things have got better on the glove front over the last two years, they now sell a few different colors and they are more robust. On the plus side I have not caught a cold since all this started. Small mercies.

I turned the heating on this morning. The room was cold. I was cold to the bone. Outside a man sat on the sidewalk with his backpack, smoking a cigarette. I drank my tea, and turned my head as I realized he was crying. He pulled himself up and got on down the road moving quickly. He must have been frozen. The SIP hotels still have funding, yet all of them are closed. I wonder if he would have been crying if he had a hotel room with some heating? I wonder if that would have fixed enough of his problems to make the day feel bearable.

No sun is burning through the fog. It is stubbornly sitting over the city reminding us who we are. We are San Francisco. I wonder if the fog will remind us of the rest of what it means to be a member of a community that prides itself on caring? I doubt it, but then I was always pessimistic. The sky is wholly grey and the cup is always half full. I fill my lucky bamboo’s pot with water every day, nursing it’s strange orange root system, carefully trimming overgrown shoots and placing it out of direct sunlight. It had started off in my care as a pale sickly almost white specimen. Now it looks like it might live. I think people are not too different from plants, they just need a little care and attention.

I am not like most other people, and that is not a good thing. I appreciate being cared for, and caring back in return, but something has broken in my mind. Not anything essential or dangerous, just something human that died in that apartment in Tokyo. Something that responds to kindness, instead of expecting damage. Sometimes I wonder who would still love me if I showed them the side of me that was also wholly grey and cold. I don’t have a dark side as much as a cold side. I get burnt out and my embers stop glowing. I stop caring so much. At least that is what I tell myself. It is easier that way


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