San Francisco is freezing today. I have the heating on, I am sitting under my quilt wearing my Slytherin bathrobe (come on, did you really think I was a Hufflepuff?) and drinking hot pumpkin-spiced tea. My hands are freezing and I can’t feel my feet. This is not why I live in California. I know I might complain a little about the overly hot days of summer, and I am the kind of person that thinks living in a Goldilocks climate zone is worth its weight in gold, I might even be a little too obsessed about my temperature-related comfort. I think it comes from years of living outside, where a snow storm was a threat to life and limb, and a few of those cold nights got so very cold I was scared we would all freeze to death. It might also be that, heaven forbid, I am getting old, and the cold makes my arthritis play up.
I am a big ole Bay-be. When the mercury creeps above 80 degrees I come on like a fainting nob in some Jane Austen novel. When it gets cold and dark, I go into hibernation. I want one of those surprising San Franciscan winter days when it gets up to 65 degrees and the sun shines. Everyone seems to have gone to sleep out there. The streets are quieter, the nights are more peaceful. For now there are far fewer dramatic scenes and brawls and nervous breakdowns. It is only because it is cold and threatening to rain. It is a lull in the action not a ceasefire. I fully expect things to deteriorate rapidly once again in the not too distant future.
It is the circle of life in 2022 San Francisco. The budget for policing has been cut when we are already drowning in crime. Yes, in 2022, the San Franciscan song on the breeze is not ‘where have all the flowers gone?” but “where has all the money gone?” The money, my friends, has fled for Palo Alto, Sausalito, the La Honda Valley. The money has gone south to Texas, east to Georgia, and anywhere but the overpriced and crime ridden Bay Area. I fear we are in a terminal decline. The weather is too good here for it to become a Detroit. Snow plus crime, plus exit of big money in the form of car manufacturing almost fatally wounded Detroit, Michigan. I do not underestimate the power of bad weather to drive people away from an area. Why bother fixing it when you freeze your ass off for 65 percent of the year? Just go someplace warmer with fewer problems. San Francisco won’t die because of our marine layer, that natural air conditioning. San Francisco won’t die because it hardly ever never snows, and the winters are mild and comfortable. We have one and a half seasons in San Francisco. Cool and Cooler. The weather is why I will hold on here for dear life…well that and the fact it is a sanctuary within a sanctuary and it is one of the only places I can survive for now.
I wonder what the weather is like in Los Angeles? Perhaps the Laurel Canyon is warm and welcoming. Maybe I will be able to unfreeze my fingers and move them without wincing if I was just a little further south, but then I would boil in the summer and I can’t function in the burning heat. Life seems like one big game of compromises, and I am very unsuited to it. The only true solution would be to be rich enough to live somewhere cool in summer and warm in winter. I spent years of my youth mocking snowbirds who go south to Florida to winter in the sun, now my joints are gnarled up with arthritis I dread cold and damp days which leave me struggling to play guitar, or type or move around without making horrendously embarrassing sounds. These days I can’t get up out of a chair without groaning and yelping. It really is no good.
Perhaps I should have been more into healthy living when I was younger. Partly my current state of early decrepitude can be blamed on my own lifestyle choices. No one can burn not only the candle at both ends for years, but also the entire bonfire of the pharmaceutical insanities, and remain completely undamaged. I live in fear of some kind of brain damage rearing its ugly head and leaving me demurring like my hero Keef Richards in a permanent state of ‘errrrrr mmmmmmmm arrrrrrrrrhhhh’. If the physical damage caused by years of being beaten up and sleeping on a bed roll outside is added into the mix, then I suppose this painful state of being is to be expected. Warm weather helps more than I ever thought possible. Well, warm weather and marijuana. I discovered that decarbolating hashish to activate the thc and adding that to food is a relatively cheap way to get stoned without smoking. I have given up smoking. Smoked my last joint. Lit my last cancer stick. Goodbye to smoking, meat, dairy, eggs, anything fried, anything sweet and being able to sit on my backside and not work out and remain slim. Just staying alive and not blobby is increasingly hard work. I am too short to let myself fall into comfortable middle aged spread, and my knees cannot take it. I am now in a war against time, that I know I will eventually lose. Perhaps at least I can remain on my feet and relatively active for as long as possible.
The sun is up for a few hours of slightly cloudy warmth. Very soon it will be down again. Winter seems to fly by. Those long summer days drag out forever, then are gone. How I long to be able to replay some of those days. I miss people and times which were hard in their own ways, dangerous even, but when I could reach out and hug those people I loved. I would give almost anything for a day I could replay when I was a young mother with two babies to fuss over and my knees didn’t hurt. Perhaps my back protests so much after carrying around two children on my hip and shopping across the other shoulder. I am just not big enough to haul like I used to have to do.
I will try and go out today. I will try and not hide in my sweet little living room. I will try and probably fail. I just want to bury myself in my privacy and illusion of safety and not venture out there. My world gets smaller and smaller. I am getting smaller and smaller. In the end I will simply disappear and not exist at all. All I can do is delay the inevitable I suppose.