San Diego Fires

It’s officially cold here. I have retired the Barn Jacket ™ from 1993 and have pulled out the pea coat. I have begun to put the heat on at night. I have officially wished for a heated bathroom floor. I better finish up that basketweave scarf this weekend because I am going to need it for the next six months or so. Plus a hat.

I went out for a nice dinner with Mrs. Roboto last night, and over this lovely dish of cauliflower and chard and about a metric ton of glorious, glorious cheese, we started talking about boys. She asked me how long Carl and I had been together and I told her the entire saga…I love how someone askes me an innocent question, expecting something short like “Oh, about four years,” and I respond with the story, the backstory, the extended remix, and the director’s commentary. Poor Mrs. Roboto. She told me about how she and her husband got together and we spent an enjoyable half hour discussing various relationships we knew or had heard about. Good stuff.

What I thought about after dinner, besides how cute Mrs. Roboto’s shoes were, was that couple of months Carl and I had when we were first back together. I was living in Claremont and he was in San Diego, about two hours south. That’s not much of a long distance relationship, really…in fact it was a really good way to ease into the new, grownup relationship we were going to try to have instead of the old, stinky college relationship. We only saw each other on weekends and we would spend all our time together doing fun stuff the entire time. I never had to do laundry or worry about work or anything…it was this sort of magical couple of months that I spent falling deeper and deeper in love with this new (yet old!) person.

The year and a half before that, before we were officially back together, we’d spent a lot of time going back and forth between Claremont and San Diego as well. We went to Joshua Tree, we went to the Wild Animal Park, we went to IKEA, we went to the beach, we went to Jerry’s Famous Deli and arty movies in Pasadena. I haven’t been to Southern California for three years, but I can still see this bridge on the 15 highway going south, can still see the interchange to get off at the house he lived in, can still see the beautiful houses and parks of San Diego, the sculpture garden we took pictures in that one time.

Last weekend when we were doing the salmon walk someone said that the evacuation line in Claremont was about a mile north of our colleges. I can’t even bear to look at the pictures of burning San Diego and think of all the time I spent there, happy and giddy-ish and nervous with love. I think about all the people who have lost homes and schools and everything they own, maybe even people they loved, and I know that makes my little mourning for those places I used to know pretty much insignificant. I just have this image of all these memories and hopes and fears and even the ordinary every days, all going up in the smoke and the fear. I still remember how it was hardly possible to go back to normal after the hurricane in 1992, and how we still talk about things that happened “before the hurricane,” and how I was lucky not to completely lose my home but I still felt devastated from the loss and chaos and then just the work of rebuilding everything. So I guess I am just saying (and cribbing off Allison): anyone who’s reading this and feels like contributing to the Red Cross, I’m sure it will be much appreciated. Anyone in Southern California whose life is affected by those fires: for what it’s worth, I am praying for rain in a place where I was very happy once, and I hope you are safe right now.

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