It is hot in the city tonight. It has been hotter than hell itself for the past few days, hitting over 80 a few days ago. The streets are sweating. People have come alive. Cars are pumping out heavy beats. People are singing opera in the streets. A man tried to break open the steel floor to roof gate of my apartment building last night. He was shaking and rattling at the cage that keeps the inhabitants safe inside and unwisely showing a total lack of stealth, blasting out No Woman No Cry from a boom box. I ignored him, hoping he wouldn’t try and climb up to my window. I know it sounds outlandish, but to be frank the heat makes people crazy, me included, and I didn’t trust the motherfucker not to go full spiderman on me and start peering into my window asking for cookies and milk. I don’t eat cookies, and I only have soy or oat milk. I don’t think it would have satisfied him.
It is so hot that my cactuses are flowering. One is breaking out in tiny pink buds, the other has sprouted greenish white outcroppings of blossom. They are sitting in the window blissfully happy, crammed into tiny pots and soaking up the sunlight as it streams into the room. I have thrown all the windows open. Now the sun has gone down, but the heat still lingers. I have thrown open the curtains, now it is darker, to try and let some of the hotness out the room, but I am burning up. I feel smothered, I feel heavy right to my bones, weighed down by the unseasonal hotness. I have had no time to prepare myself for heat. San Francisco doesn’t get hot. We are a city with a marine layer. We are a city of fog and infamously labelled the place where the coldest winter that Mark Twain ever felt was our San Francisco summer. He knew what he was talking about. Our summers are cool, rarely straying above the 60s and with day after day in the 50s. It is beautiful. The weather suits the city, fits our industrious maritime hustle, and to be frank, suits me. I am not built for heat. Those Tokyo summers used to threaten to kill me every year. It would hit above 100 degrees and not cool off at night, and make me huddle under air conditioning with all the curtains closed wondering when it would finally break and leave me bathing in the rainy season typhoons. I always did enjoy a good typhoon.
I am a bad weather girl. I am a stormy weather baby. I do best when it is dark, wet, chill and on the verge of cold. I thrive in fog. I can hide in corners and behind the weather. I like huddling in coats and disappearing into my beanie. I do not like gasping for breath, hot and sweating and miserably sedated by the dirty city heat. I am sulking in the harsh light. Not even my flowering cacti can cheer me up. I have never had cactus which blossom. My oldest friend used to call me ‘cactus flower’. I never cared to think about it. I now presume it was because I was prickly but not ugly on the inside. I suppose I used to be pretty on the outside at one point, or if not beautiful, I was at least cool. Look but don’t touch. Don’t get too close. Now it is all useless. I have no hope left. I have no future in front of me. I know that. I don’t like it, but I know it.
I have started to write letters to people I love. People both here and gone. I have started to take a few photos, and get things in order. I have a sense of foreboding. It is probably foundationless, but still I sit here thinking how lightly I have trodden on this earth. What do I leave behind? A few words. A beautiful son. A few recordings of songs that I wrote and loved then left to wither on the vine. Not much really. Survival doesn’t have any awards, there are no bronzes or plaques. There are no accolades or appreciative audiences in the coliseum seeing how I withstood the lions and the slings and arrows, the shuriken and five fingered death punches and cheering me to victory by default of survival….whilst not hurting the wildlife. There is nothing to be gained apart from the time I bought for me and the Boy. It was time hard won. It has been made beautiful by a friend who turned up and waved her wand and made it gleam. Perhaps that is all I need: a couple of friends to say, “Hey Detroit, you did good…” I always suspect they will turn round one day and tell me they changed their mind and that I am a terrible person.
You see, withstanding the heat means treading on toes. It means staring into the sun without a hope of the moon rising over the hill. It means not having a hope of relief. It means no rest for the wicked, and no peace for the desolate. It means sitting on floors beaten to within an inch of your life and being the silly, goofy, fun adoring mother that the babies need despite seeing double and wondering if you were going to disintegrate into ashes and memories.
The world is burning. I always used to say that the best people were a little bit crazy, but to be frank being crazy is not attractive on everybody. On the mundane and unimaginative it is a torture for them, and disconcerting for the rest of us. Most of the world appears to have lost it’s collective tiny mind and it is not pretty. No one can see each others faces, we are all missing cues from facial expressions. People are getting on superiority kicks.
People are feeling their mortality. People are isolated and desperate and poor. A zucchini costs a dollar seventy nine. Six buck cauliflowers. Five dollar spaghetti squash. Eating is a terrifying business. I have cut down to two meals a day and might have to cut down further. A box of allergen free cereal is now out of reach. Russia is threatening to start world war three. You know when military equipment starts to be moved in Poland that nothing good is going to happen. All we need is an archduke and a great orator and we are in the shit. Again. I hear Roger Waters’ voice singing “was it for this that daddy died?”….seems so…and we look like we are all so fucking hot, bothered, desperate, manipulated, fired up and crazy that we are going to go for some Ivan meets GI joe action, and I don’t like that idea. You just know that there are some old white men who can’t wait to see what it feels like to push a big red button and fry an entire city. Again. Assholes.
Outside the window is no cooler than inside. The trees have started to move with a light breeze. Looks like fire weather. Time to batten down the hatches and brace for impact. Aren’t we all ready to do this differently? Try a different way? Because what we have been doing feels like being in a semi consensual prison run by people addicted to luxury while the rest of us scrabble in desert cities for the last zucchini known to man.
I am going to sit by an open window and pray for rain. Might as well. I have nothing else to do except swelter in fucking February.