Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Tell [them] what planet you've been on"

KPBS is doing a great story on These Days right now that is about how we're dealing with the fires now that they are mostly contained.

The flames and the smoke may be contained, but we are not.

Like I wrote earlier, we all had a unique experience of the main event.

One of the callers said she looks back on the week and remembers coming unravelled and yelling at someone she normally would treat kindly.

Justin and I talked about that--we all did. Like they said on the radio, we had some of our most generous and conversely most unkind moments last week.

We kept neighbors company, we went to Qualcomm with 10 new pillows, boxes of crayons and children's books, copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul that I've had stashed in a box, school supplies, perfectly good clothes that I knew I could share with someone else. Then we fought with each other over nothing. We don't remember the subjects, we really don't, but we remember feeling annoyed with each other, feeling cabin fever in our closed-windowed two-bedroom apartment that held me glued to the TV news, KPBS radio and my laptop while Justin had lectures cancelled because doctors were either being evacuated or called to other duties. Family called from other counties alternately finding sweet children taking comfort in their virtual presence or lashing out at their ignorance of our experience of these fires.

What can people expect of people, though? What right do people have to expect anything? If anything has been learned in my 32 years it is that expectations most commonly lead to disappointment. So let it go.

My planet has been smoky and scary and fed by the constant images of KNBC San Diego--supplemented with reporters from out of state who had to quickly learn the history of San Diego fires and how to say the names of streets named in Spanish so that our local reporters could evacuate their homes and rest their voices while they ran 24 hour coverage of the fires and the constantly evolving list of evacuees. We've been eating out because cooking in a house warmed by Santa Ana winds and 90 degree temperatures with closed windows and doors is a special kind of discomfort. We've just been waiting and watching, knowing nothing was happening while the worst was happening to someone else.

It hasn't been a good week.

It shouldn't count.

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