the one who would not budge

"You can't stop here," they said, when they found me planted cross-legged on the road. I looked up.

"Why not? There's plenty of room to pass around me."

"It's a No Standing Zone."

"I'm not standing. I'm sitting."

The officers shifted uncomfortably, glanced at one another. "Listen," said the first, whose name badge read APATHY, "We know you've been here a while already. It's time to move on."

"Well, I can't. I've tried."

The other, whose badge read SYMPATHY, knelt down. "Do you want us to call someone for you?"

"Like who?"

"Like a friend."

I brought my knees up to my chest and wrapped the flannel I was wearing tight around me. I pulled the sleeves down over my hands, disappearing as much of myself as I could in the brown and green plaid. It was an invisibility cloak that hid exactly nothing from no one. 

"Everyone knows everything already," I said softly. 

"Look here," started Apathy, "you can't just---" But his partner held up a hand and shook his head, and they left.

The next night they returned to find me in the exact same spot. "We brought you something." Sympathy held a weathered envelope with an AirMail stamp. He buzzed with excitement as he handed to me.

"What's this?" I asked, accepting it with little interest.

Apathy glared. "Just open it."

Inside the envelope was a four hundred and forty-eight word apology, from someone six thousand miles away, whom I hadn't thought about once in two years.

I read it, then read it again. "What am I supposed to do with this?"

"We thought you'd be pleased." Sympathy was disappointed. 

I handed the letter back. "Would you please go? I'd like to be alone."

"This is unhealthy," declared Apathy. "Pathetic, really."

"I am aware," I replied.

"What are you going to do, just stay here forever?" 

I took a deep breath and looked from Sympathy to Apathy and back again. "Have you never read any of the Romantics?" 

"You mean like the stuff with Fabio on the cover?"

I blinked. "No. No I do not mean like the stuff with Fabio on the cover." I took another deep breath. "Gentlemen, I appreciate your concern. I do. But right now I am like a character in a Bronte novel. Unrequited, long-suffering, noble if unrewarded devotion - all that. I see no reason to move on from where I am until I'm ready, and frankly, I think there's worse, less beautiful stances I could take up in this life.

Sympathy's face softened. Apathy's brow furrowed.

With my thumb I traced circles around the button at the bottom of my shirt. "I'm choosing this," I said, as if to the button. "I might stop choosing it tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next. But right now, here, exactly where I am is exactly the only place I can be."

I pulled a matchbox from my pocket, struck a light on the nearest memory that sparked. "Now if you don't mind, I have a candle to burn."

As they walked away, conferring in low tones about the one who would not budge, the setting sun blurred them into silhouettes. I couldn't tell without squinting who was who, because the road I wasn't ready to move down very quickly disappeared into a future I wasn't ready to see.

chirp

You came to me this week hidden in the secrets of others. They have no idea that in them, I only ever see you. I see you in their desires, their curiosities, their apologies.

I only ever see you, still. 

I gave in, I laid back, I closed my eyes. I swallowed the burning, selfish desire to reach out and interrupt your journey. The ache is a kind of faith. I have to believe you were there with me, and that you just don't know how to get back. 

It's been almost two years since we went to the canyon. The swing. The spilled wine. The drum. I'm here now, you said. 

Were you? 

I hear you in songs you'd probably hate, in things you'd never say even if you felt them like blood in your bones. 

It's a kind of faith.

let's see how many variations of "dense" I can get into one post

content warning: boobs, end times

---

My boobs are fine, you can all exhale. I got the nice little secret coded message from my doctor on the super secure, unnecessarily well-protected Cedars Sinai app a week after the screening. Your mammogram was normal, see you next year, have fun with your healthy tits - at least until everything is canceled again, lol! (I may have read into it a little.)

Then I got an official, follow up letter in my mailbox with further details saying, among other things, that my breasts are "dense" - but that I don't need to worry about it. I was like Uh okay well you spelled 'perfect' wrong but as long as I don't need to worry.

I didn't at all expect a bad result, but I took the good news as a mandate to take better care of myself, just in case I've been lucky so far. Stocked up on vegetables and fruit, cooked off a bunch of couscous, lentils, quinoa, and barley. I am in my Bowl Phase, because I cannot with salads anymore. I just cannot. Either the pieces of lettuce/spinach/kale are so big I feel like I'm folding a fucking bed sheet with my fork, or they're nice and choppy-chopped, but then the density of the green is too much (too bitter), and requires more dressing than is rational.

Also, I was this week years old when I discovered a splash of lime juice and some mint can transform even the most basic fruit. I am furious to arrive so late to the mint-lime party, but I'm here now, and I am going to rage. 

---

Past couple weeks of work have been off-the-charts challenging and stressful, but my boss, my boss's boss, and even my former boss are all on it and/or checking in with me until it is resolved. I feel very well supported and very much appreciated, and that gratitude is fueling my forbearance. 

---

At this point I'm keeping my festival plans, in spite of the Delta variant. The two fests to which I have tickets don't get that packed, even in non-pandemic years. Lots of space, outdoors, and I'm always at the far edge of things where the crowd breaks up anyway. The Prydz show that's coming up in a couple of weekends has me a lot more squeamish. That one will be much denser, and I might chicken out and sell my ticket last minute. Dunno.

---

And now that I've tiptoed around it for as long as possible, let's finally acknowledge the elephant in the room, which is the latest IPCC report. What's that? The elephant is only in my room? You're all able to continue functioning normally and think about, literally, anything else? Cool. What's that like?

If you don't already follow me on Twitter, now is definitely not the time to start. My retweets and likes are The Doom and Gloom Channel, despite the exhortations of the more optimistic climate scientists I follow (I am pretty sure they are all faking that optimism, because what else can you do?)

It's all fucking with my head terribly. I have always been darkly drawn to apocalyptic scenarios in film and literature. Stories where everyone loses, where there is an equalization of power and suffering, New Zealand bunkers and offshore funds notwithstanding, fascinate me a little too much. 

It's why when the rich and famous started coming down with Covid, I was like Huh. Would you look at that. Money doesn't always equal safety. 

It's why when my friends and I talk about where we want to end our years, old and grey, I am the one pretend-casually floating the idea of us all going in on some land together, somewhere off the grid, where the water wars won't reach us. 

It's why when everyone else is rallying together, outraged, to demand change - I am over here just kind of frozen in an involution of existential wonder. Because suddenly, seemingly random life choices don't feel so random anymore. Hell, the seemingly random data point that is my age doesn't feel so random anymore. 

I didn't decide not to have kids because I knew climate collapse was coming. I didn't decide not to have kids at all. I just didn't, but then eventually I realized how absolutely much I do not want them, and how easily I could have ended up having them, had things played out differently. 

I didn't opt out of getting a car this past fifteen years out of concern for the environment. It just got easier and easier to go without one, until I realized I absolutely loved the freedom from the cost and the trouble of it. Until I realized everyone looking at me pityingly for riding the bus/train has it exactly backwards. Public transportation is a luxury. It's free time. It's negative stress. I can sit there and gaze out the window and listen to music and day dream, or text friends, or learn words, or whatever I want. I am being chauffeured around for free, on a pretty timely schedule, without ever having to rush, or deal with the frustration of drivers, parking spots, parking tickets etc etc. And the only cost to me is social cachet? LOL I'll take it.

I didn't stop traveling internationally to cut down on my carbon footprint. I stopped traveling because my interests shifted, because I got to know myself better (travel exhausts me) and because I could already check so many countries off my list. France, Germany, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Spain, Greece, Thailand, Australia, The South Pacific, Israel, Jordan, England, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, and Argentina. I mean, what do I have to complain about? I've seen more of the world than most people ever will. I did it young, when I had the energy and spirit for it. And I did it long before the distraction and pressure of Instagram. 

I didn't choose to work for a company that has its own regenerative farm in Northern California because I am so eco-conscious. It just happened. 

And I certainly had no say about being born in 1975. I can do nothing to change the fact that, quite possibly, mine will be the last generation to experience things I will not even name, because it is too bleak to call them out. 

All of this just happened how it happened. But here I am, and my mind is blown. 

My mind is blown that 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming is most likely going to kick in right around the time all I'm gonna wanna do is watch Matlock and nap anyway. My mind is blown at how good my timing is, in a terrible, terrible thing. 

My mind is blown at how my clear my conscience is, by no virtuous actions of my own. That is not moralizing. That is wonderment. I am a non-reproducing, car-free, non-internationally traveling individual who works for one of the good guys, environmentally speaking. I'm no statistician, but methinks if you scaled up my (non)choices even half a percentage point in a population of 8 billion, we might not be in this fucking predicament. 

Yes, fossil fuels. Yes, yes, yes. They are the real culprit. I know that of course. Nevertheless, all these ostensibly stochastic elements of my life are like puzzle pieces that I am fitting together to make a picture I can't stop staring at. There's either no meaning in it, or all the meaning in it, I don't know which. 

It isn't easy to make the end of the world about oneself, but if anyone could...

Fair warning: there will probably be more of that. Dark humor. End of the world jokes. Because I am me, and because that's how I cope. But also - and this is a whole other, massive thing to consider - my being childfree means this hits entirely different. At least, I assume it does? I don't know because I'm not a parent, but I imagine everything I feel in sympathy for generations after mine is a walk in the park compared to what parents are feeling right now. 

It is a horror cherry on top of a heartbreak cake to realize that climate change - and the irrevocable damage we've done to our planet - is going to hit everyone on a sliding scale, according to age. The older you are, the less you will be affected by it. And the less you will be affected by it, the more easily you can accept it. 

That is not apathy. You can accept that some things are irreversible and still act to prevent other, even worse scenarios. You can accept what the scientists say will happen, even in the best of cases, and still be outraged on behalf of humans younger than yourself - and those yet to be born. And I am outraged, in a quietly dazed way. I am in heartbroken disbelief that years after being shamed out of using aerosol hairspray because the ozone layer had a hole in it, we didn't do much more than set up recycling bins and make some documentaries. We should have been chaining ourselves to the doors of every petroleum and coal company in existence, every fucking day, until they stopped. To the doors of our politicians' offices. It's apparently what we have to do now

I don't know that I'm going to have time to do that, to be honest. I'm going to be pretty busy rolling my acorns into the biggest pile I can, for the winters ahead. Ain't no one else gonna be rolling them for me. But I will not be making things worse, that I swear. I will continue to tread lightly, with my TAP card in one hand, and maybe a dog leash in the other.