It has finally stopped raining, at least for now. The fury of the Pineapple Express which has soaked the Bay area since New Year’s Eve is almost sated, having spewed 20 inches of rain, blown down trees, killed nineteen people and done at least a billion dollars in damage. It is not quite done with us: we have another storm to go on Wednesday, then a period of what looks like clear Californ-eye-ay- sailing for the next ten days of so, that is if you believe the weather man. It got hairy for a while out here. Trees lurched threateningly, power cuts abounded (though my sweet little apartment in a bad part of town escaped that horror), and we have been trapped inside since New Year’s Eve while the streets turned into rivers flowing downhill to the sea, or Mission to flood the gorgeous Rainbow Grocery, people’s houses and collect in the roads stubbornly refusing to let anyone go about their normal day to day lives.
I have to admit that the mean-spirited computer-screen trolls that inhabit the comment sections of various news outlets and twitter got to me. They were wishing death, destruction, earthquakes and some nebulous idea of their Christian Godz retribution on my beloved State and all who sail through life within her lines. I can’t say it didn’t hurt. I mean, when I look at floods in Texas, hurricanes in Florida or snowstorms in the mid west all I feel is immense sadness, pity and horror. My heart goes out to them. I swear the rest of America hates us, wants us to fall off the planet and disappear. What do they hate? Our permissiveness? Our kindness? Our golden hills? The fact that they never had the balls to go west, nor did their ancestors, and so stayed somewhere smaller and less full of possibilities? Do they hate our melting pot ideals? Do they honestly wish us dead, drifting off into the Pacific ocean and broken away from their ideal of America. I hope not. I hope it is all Russian trolls, inbred hill-dwelling nazis in their curious little compounds full of assault rifles and bad attitudes, and Chinese bad actors who want us to destroy each other so they don’t have to try and destroy us at some point. I honestly cannot force myself to believe the rest of America hates California so much, and yet….and yet…while I was travelling through this beautiful country, from the west coast to the mid west, I heard such vitriol towards California that I have the sneaking suspicion that at least some of this hatred is real.
There needs to be a refuge within the USA for those Americans who do not subscribe to hatred and cruelty. California of today lets the huddled masses take refuge within her boundaries, while so much of the rest of this country locks them – locks us, since I am one of them – in tent camps, removes their children and treats them worse than any human ever deserves to be treated. It is as if kindness and humanity has the tendency to evaporate when you move away from the coastline, like a bad storm, good sushi and the ability to drive a car. The only thing I will give up, is that I too have never seen such recklessly terrible driving outside of New York City.
There is so much goodness, so much kindness, so much downhome honest and decent loveliness in this country I call home. It is such a shame that the hateful minority make it so scary for the rest of us. I mean that Trump flag waving crowd who feed on racist, anti-semitic, anti-immigrant, pull-yerself-up-by-the-bootstraps ideas. It is all well and good to pull yerself up by the bootstraps, but what if you don’t have a pair of sliders, let alone boots on your feet in the first place? It is impossible to pull up and out of something without anything to grab on to – the flood just takes you away, drifting downstream until you drown in a sea of hatred at worst, and indifference at best. Evaporation seems like a small mercy to hope for when there is no dry land to set your feet upon, and when you do, the ‘good people’, the ‘decent people’ throw you back out to sea, after they split up your family and destroy every hope and dream you ever had. Survival is a luxury liner in an ocean of hatred.
There was a time at the end of the dog days of summer last year, when San Francisco decided to try and emulate Joshua Tree or Death Valley and get hotter than hell, and drier too, that I longed for winter to set in. The grass is always greener on the other side of the season. I am never satisfied. I am built for four seasons, and damnit I need the spring time before my arthritic fingers drive me to distraction and I start to permanently sprout blankets and three pairs of socks. I can’t see there is any sunshine the other side of the rainbow. I can’t hope that the sun will return. I can’t hope for some warmth or relief. I am stuck in a permanent winter, despite the California sun shining outside trying to promise me days of sunburnt arms and parkland open grassy field days, baseball and all of it all of it that I love until I need winter again and start stamping my perpetually juvenile feet for the relief of the short cool dark days of winter once more. Is there anywhere where it is an eternal spring? A forever fall-ing of leaves?
I am not dissatisfied with the weather, I am sad with myself and that is the problem. My ‘frail deeds’ did not ‘dance in a green bay’ like Dylan Thomas once wrote, and I will not go quietly into the springtime, or the summer or whatever dark winter comes after that. I am out of time. I am out of space. I am out of hope and out of everything that means anything. I spent myself on the storm. I am lost in my own survival, and in the protection of my Boy. I am dissolving. Once I am done I wonder what will be left of what remains? This bloodline runs bad, and it feels as if I am here to pay the bill for all of those previous bad decisions and long-running streaks of bad luck. You can run, but you can’t hide forever. I don’t live in the world like you do, I like below it or above it, playing by different rules. I am not ‘good’. Good people chose to do the right thing. I didn’t chose to do the damned ‘right thing’ which would have destroyed me and everyone I loved. I chose to do the necessary thing, the impossible thing, the cold dark thing where any safety evaporates on the storm of the attacks of the man that hates me and calls it love, and the system which benefits him immensely.
I would scream into the storm, but the sun is shining now.
I can never catch a break.
Perhaps one day I will evaporate like a lake in the California sun and return to the sky and the jet stream and rain my furious disappointment down upon a parched and unforgiving earth.