I watched a video a friend made yesterday, as she and her dogs escaped Malibu and the fire. It was very cinematic, it struck me, almost a trope from long before we had the technology to make such a normal, ordinary 2018 thing possible.
I’m talking about survivor statements, those pieces of paper found in the wilderness, scratches on deserted island trees, barely audible tape recordings, or those video messages in space movies, fighting distance and time for relevancy.
Actually, the more I think about it, this is mostly from Star Trek, I think. Those guys were always running across some abandoned ship floating in space, and coming across one last video log entry from the captain, smoke in the background, life support down to 23%, etc. That’s what I’m thinking about.
And while we’re all used to this now, it’s funny how familiar it still feels. Here’s a woman, in her car on the Pacific Coast Highway, smoke billowing behind her, two dogs in the backseat, calmly but obviously urgently telling her friends that she was evacuating her home, things were bad, she was safe, etc.
It doesn’t feel real, in other words. It feels like something from a movie, adding a layer of detachment to a crazy reality. Somebody shot up a synagogue in Pittsburgh and then somebody else shot up a nightclub in California, and now the fires have started, and meanwhile they’re still counting votes in Florida and the president’s son is probably only a few days away from arrest, and who knows what else.
The whole thing feels detached. The whole world feels traumatized, and all the Facebook Live videos do is remove me one more step, somehow.
I hope my friend is OK. I mean, I hope I hope that. Sure. I hope that. I haven’t seen her in 30 years, I don’t really know her. Detached.
There’s nothing going on here. We had a week or so in the summer of smoky skies, a result of the wildfires in (mostly) British Columbia. The Pacific is warmer than normal, looking very much like an El Nino year, meaning not much weather in this part of the country. Can’t rule out a big windstorm, or a big storm of any kind; just talking odds here. Sounds like last winter.
In fact, probably the most traumatic thing that’s happened up here—at least for us—has been the 18-month construction that’s been happening outside my window since the summer of 2017. I’ve been looking at DETOUR signs for a long time now. They’re almost done, but the east side of my street has been blocked since before Halloween, supposedly to be finished by November 1 but look at this, nine days later and it’s still blocked. And those guys are working at nights and on weekends.
We haven’t even had that much rain. There are no fires, no earthquakes, nothing resembling wind or rumblings of an unhappy planet. It’s boring here.
Like I need to tell you that.