Just got back from a weekend in Los Angeles, my old stomping ground. The drive up was quite an experience with huge mushroom clouds of multi-colored smoke to the left of me, trees swaying in the extremely high winds, the car being buffeted about like it was a weightless toy, and on the horizon a layer of smog over the city that looked like gray meringue. The day prior, the winds had reached 76 mph and it seemed they'd whip up and switch paths on a whim. So many fires, so much tragedy. I couldn't watch the evening news without tearing up. Today, when I returned to the desert I had to keep the headlights on as the smoke was so thick in places and the visibility was poor. There were at least four fires raging in Southern California.
I've no idea what it would be like to lose everything but came close after the Northridge earthquake when my house was damaged. The aftershocks continued for months, recreating the terror of yet another hideous event. It really was the most frightening thing I'd ever experienced. Such a loss of control. Such fear. It's been years, but I still recall those feelings as if it was yesterday.
So all of this makes me ask, "Why do I live here?" It can't really be just for the weather. In fact I'm sitting on top of the San Andreas fault and we are long overdue for a big earthquake in Southern California. You'd think I'd be smart enough to get my ass out of town. But no. I stay. Sometimes I think I'm no more mature than a teenager. I'm invincible. Hah! I'm not invincible, I'm trapped. I retired to the desert communities with the idea of going small. A modest house, small yard, less expenses, live out my old age in the heat. Then the bottom fell out of the market and left me with an overpriced house. I'd have to put money into it to sell it. How can that be possible? Where did I go wrong in my planning?
Then I pause and quit my moaning and groaning. I still have my home, my treasures, my family. I still have a roof over my head and my heart breaks for those who have lost theirs. I promise to give thanks for my blessings every day. To be grateful for what I have and to give back to those who are suffering in these hard times, times made even harder by Mother Nature.