Here is the most mournful song I have heard lately:
My heart aches for New York City, for Massachusetts, for the East Coast. I want to run there with each story I read. I was listening to NPR while driving, and a story came on about a Long Island family who lost their dad, their son, their father when he went and saved someone else and died in doing so. They were, they are, Russian – I could tell by the way they spoke, they sounded like so many people I love – and the way the said hero, when they talked about him, it just made me ache. In Russian, hero sounds like it comes from your stomach, like it’s painful, like you mean it with your guts.
I want to do something, anything helpful, anything at all. But instead I am in Los Angeles, three hours and 3,000 miles away, with my arms pointlessly flailing, useless. Reading about the pesky rats and the useful rats, following the updates, looking at photos, marveling at the generosity and senselessness. There are plenty of ways to be helpful in every borough, whether you’re a trained professional or not. (Thank you to the RISE social work people for those links.)
It’s not only this recent catastrophe, but the slow realization that I have no end date here. It’s not the excitement of having a limited time to suck up all the culture and adventures in a six month time frame. I am here now. Perhaps forever. Forever? So far away? There’s a certain finality about uncertainty, a reluctant acceptance. Some days it still feels deliciously new, full of potential adventures and mysterious people…and other days it feels as bare and unknown as an open horizon.
We sleep with the windows wide open here, and three nights ago the fog rolled in and covered the cars in a silver pall, the streetlights peeking out like flashlights with low batteries. Blinking, somewhere off, on, off in the distance. I lay in bed, in the hazy in-between of sleeping and not sleeping and felt the water rushing in, rising until I was under it. I can’t imagine what it’s like, but that doesn’t prevent me from imagining. It feels both far away and inside me.