I’m fragile, not a force. I ask myself, what would happen if I wrote something every day? And then I don’t. Sometimes I do. Most of the time I don’t. I was someone who wanted to make my living as a writer. I’ve done so, at different times. Not this year. Something strange happened this year. Aside from everything else, now the skies are burning.
As I write this the sky is a pale yellow, an improvement over the amber of weeks past. It’s oppressive, and terrifying. Up North their world is burning. Over 100 fires in California alone. I find it paralyzing. It’s like waiting for your own death. In a way we’re all waiting for death, but this is different. This is, well, it’s like watching it come. The sky is yellow, the air is hot and dry with the scent of burning wood. I’ve lived through many fire seasons out here, but this is apocalyptic. This isn’t what is happening to others, this is ash falling from the skies and blood red moons. Literally, blood red moons.
I’ve had a terrific headache for the last two days. It could be the air quality. It could also be the stress of waiting for the inevitable loss of everything. I cannot move. I heard two reports where women said they’d had to leave their homes and their cats behind. When they returned everything was ash and dust, burned down to its foundation. Cats too.
I have four cats. I’d die before leaving them behind. Really. I’d die. I have their carriers ready near the door. I’ve strategized who I’d grab first so she couldn’t run and hide, second, third and fourth. My senior is last, because he trusts me the most. When shit goes south, he looks to me and won’t leave my side. He’ll be the easiest to round up. The once feral kitten, Greta will be the hardest. She’ll go first. Then the adult male, Ollie. He’s tricky and vicious when scared, a foster who ended up staying. I’m hoping to act so quickly, so quietly, he won’t have time to hide. Lena is just over one and she’ll be the easiest to find and the most docile once I find her, should she run. I’ll have seconds, but everything else can burn. They will not.
I run through this scenario again and again. Then my brain stops and I can’t think of anything else. Sometimes I think about their food and medication, which I’ve put, with two water jugs, in a cooler next to their carriers. Is it enough if everything burns? It will have to be. At least they’ll be alive. But then the hardest part comes, staying alive with nothing but the money in my bank account and a car more than 20 years old.
I saw an article on Medium about a woman who does it all and has a demanding day job. She is magnificent and I am not. That’s all I could think as I read this celebration of all she has accomplished and all that she is.
She’s smiling broadly in the picture wearing a cool, blush pink dress, the perfect combination of professional, artistic, confident feminine. The article describes a women who does it all, stays on task, meets her deadlines, accomplishes more than most will in their lifetimes. A tour-de-force. And I believe her so much so that I can’t finish reading today. It’s far too difficult to look myself in the mirror already. This quote from the aritcle will tell you all you need to know to know what I mean:
“Jerkins spoke to Forge about staying motivated, organized, creative, and sane as an author on the rise — all while balancing a demanding full-time job.”
She’s 28. I couldn’t possibly look to her for advice. I’m in my 40s and I may never accomplish anything in comparison. Not because I don’t know all the things about time management and positive thinking and surrounding yourself with all the right kinds of people, but because I know those things and cannot sustain them for long.
I’ve lived long enough to know that everyone has a different path to success and that success is only a marker in your own head. It’s no one’s business but your own, a conversation you have with yourself. I’m a successful cat rescuer, foster mom and mom. Does it matter that someone else doesn’t value that? It shouldn’t. But it does.
Well, back to surviving. My brain has stopped. I must go out because we’re totally out of food. I’m too scared to move, but I’ll move anyway. Wish me luck.
I’m posting this, just in case someone else will find themselves within it. Just in case you too read the same article as I today and felt bad about yourself, unsuccessful, unforceful, unlovely. Don’t. You’re not alone. And I think you’re very successful. You’re making it through another day, yes? Well then, there you are. Let’s do this day anyway, yeah? Let’s make it to tomorrow together. I’ll show up again, if you do.