Tuesday, June 28, 2011

So much more to say

We’re turning onto Alameda and oh no, look, there's the fire – I mean the whole sky is black and you can actually see the flames – it looks like it's right here. Mano says that must be an illusion, right? We're sitting in the dark at the intersection and Mano starts to cry – she says I need to stop for a moment. I say that's no problem, should we get out of the car? She says I feel like I'm watching my mother burning – it's so hard, I mean you've been active for most of your life but for so long I was living in denial – when I was with Amma we would pray, but it felt so distant. It reminds me of this dream I had a long time ago about the goddess Kali ripping all the trees up and all the bees were in a room full of books of knowledge and they had the answer to what was going on. Some people would die from the bees stings and some people would learn, and that was before everyone started talking about the bees. I just feel so powerless, I know this happens all over the world all the time but now it's right here, it's like we're all living in denial.

Now there are fires in three directions – the huge one in Arizona that’s the size of Rhode Island, the one up north that looks like a bomb blowing a huge plume of smoke straight up into the air, and now this one. Julie was saying: my job is to take kids on hikes in the mountains, but now there's nowhere to go. Where this fire is now – I was just there, and it was so green, it was the greenest place in the area.

Mano is still crying and we're staring at the flames and it just seems too constricting in the car so I say why don't we get out? And then we’re talking about climate change, the decisions this country makes that will leave the whole world in flames. I ask Mano if she thinks the smoke smells like burning animals at night and she says yes, it reminds me of when I lived in India, and there they burn everything.

It's hard not to keep staring at the flames that looks so close, right near Los Alamos is what I'm thinking and how that's my biggest fear – a disaster right there. We get back in the car, and as we're driving, everywhere there are cars stopped on the side of the road and I realize everyone's stopping to watch. This is what we do: we watch, as disasters strikes. And that's when I'm crying a little, in the car staring out into the darkness. At my house the air smells awful, but not nearly as bad as when I go outside in the morning, sit outside on my chair and I look at my hand that I used to move the chair, and it’s covered in ashes. I touch the seat: soot.

I'm thinking about how I moved here for the fresh air. I wonder if the air is so bad today that I shouldn’t be outside, I mean maybe there's a warning. Should I close all my windows while it's still cool out? Back inside, I get a message from Jessica – she says thank you for your message last night, we did take Alameda home and we saw the fire too but I didn't know what to think about it. Hearing you talk about Mano crying, and listening to the anxiety in your voice made me realize the situation, and I did a lot of research online to look into it.

Now is when I'm crying, sobbing actually because Jessica heard the anxiety in my voice and I didn't remember sounding anxious. I turn on the news, every hour on the hour but I keep missing that moment, a day of trying to find out, finding out, trying to decide if I should leave as a precautionary measure and every time I call someone and think they're going to say no, it's not a problem, they say yes, you should leave right away. And then I'm crying again, by nighttime my whole face hurts from the pollution or stress, I mean pollution and stress, and then I can't decide whether to close my windows, which is what everyone doing, but I can't deal with the heat so I leave them open.

The train goes to Chicago or LA, once a day only, but there are no tickets on sleeper cars until July 2. What about Denver? I can take a train to a bus, and it’s much closer. But is it far enough?

I decide to go to Denver for a few weeks, until the fire stops burning, but then I wake up and I'm too exhausted – remember there's only one train a day, at 1 pm and that’s too soon. So I decide to get ready today, so that then tomorrow I'll be ready. Today there's a cool breeze coming from the south and they give the illusion that the air is actually fresh. Except by the time I go out for a walk it's sweltering, okay now I'm back.

There's so much more to say – I don't know anything about Denver; I don't know anyone there; I don't know where to stay. Did I mention there are at least 20,000 barrels of toxic waste at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, sitting around in tents. They’ve even confirmed this fact. Of course they say all the radioactive material is safe -- like it always is, right? If that burns, it all goes into the air – right now the fire is about 3 miles from that area.

Now I feel sad – I don't want to leave. But I need to. All we need is rain, but this is the desert, and it may be the driest year on record. There's so much more to say, but I need to get ready for another trip.


Mano said...

now i'm crying again after reading this and my stomach feels nauseous from all this emotion. I've tried to pack all day but it doesn't happen and now i too am exhausted again. What to do M!? I'm holding your hand where ever you go dear and grateful to have shared this with you, it feels important i was with you when the tears first hit me, like an initiation into feeling, really feeling the suffering that is happening in this world and because you were there, the sign says GO, get up and act! So thank you, i am learning so much from all of this, it helped that i had actually read that book with you too, like a foreshadow of what was to come.
Love you & so grateful to know you,

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Oh Mano, thank you for this wonderful note -- here I am trying to pack too, but I can't find a place to say that's even remotely affordable in Denver, apparently there's a AAA convention and that makes it very popular?!?!

Meanwhile the smoke rolls in, earlier I got so dizzy it was hard to stand for a few minutes and I keep saying I'll close my windows but then there's no air and it gets too hot so I'm waiting for it to cool down but for now I just want to say thank you thank you thank you for all of this – for crying, for emotion, for acting, for foreshadowing – and don't be surprised if I call soon in search of updates…

Love –

Jory M. Mickelson said...

Call me when you arrive, wherever it is you are headed to! I don't think I have your cell any longer...if you even have a cell any longer.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

I'm in Denver -- I'll call you soon!

Love --