Between Ice & Sun

  "The Empty Table" -   Vic, Catalonia, Spain. 

"The Empty Table" -  Vic, Catalonia, Spain. 

The rains came.

They came from out of nowhere, pelting the Spanish soil until it was a sea of mud, falling harder then they had in living memory. Then the hail stones--crashing down, splintering roof tiles and windshields alike.

It was July.

Two days before, it had been 28 degrees.

Halfway around the world, a wife & her husband looked out across the brown, barren desert that was their home & sweltered in the shade of 115 degree afternoon. Their ranch lay in the hills of California, just above & outside Los Angeles.

Fires had already broken out. They always did in summer, but rarely this early in the year. They tried not to think about what this might mean for August. They tried not to think about what this could mean for their home. They stared & drank tequila to calm their nerves & ease the sweat pouring from their brows, barely able to breathe in the burning air...and subconsciously checked for signs of smoke. 

Earlier that year, a beautiful, blooming & bustling city further North on the American Coast had gotten 20 feet of snow that had stayed for months. People had laughed. Then panicked. Then laughed again & took pictures. It had only snowed twice in the last decade & barely more than a foot or two.

 "It's a strange year," people murmured everywhere around the world. "A strange year for weather..."

Very few people wanted to connect the dots. Or perhaps the siren song of the television, the mirror, the phone, the computer, the drama of a first date, of a break-up, office gossip, the latest sale on cook wear & underwear & mini-skirts, that promotion for the job they hated...simply drowned out the voice of panic or reason, silently tugging at the corners of their shirtsleeves that the world was getting warmer...that the world was changing...that things were dying.

(Exaggerations). We've got time.

 

The radio sang 4 chord songs about sex & heartbreak & the need to go faster & make more money. Men & women stared angrily at their mirrors or reflections in shop windows & distractedly tried to find their best photo angle on their cell phones, to show the world how 'happy' they were; diligently attempting to hide the three gray hairs that had snuck their way in, unannounced & the cellulite on their bellies that frantically screamed, "No one will ever love you!"

Outside, just beyond the screens & late-night arguments & television jangles, the world was growing angry. The heat rose. And the cold with it. And the plants became confused & afraid to do their damn job of feeding an endless sea of hungry & senseless mouths. Everything was blooming too much, too soon, too sorry. Pigs bled. Animals grew sick from lying in their own excriment & were pumped full of antibiotics to kill the germs--which in turn slowly poisoned the people that ate them--wondering what they had done to deserve this treatment.

 

Swaddled in the sounds of discourse & digestion, amidst the bubbling strains of Catalan conversation filling the only Chinese Restaurant in a small town, we stared at the television mounted on the wall. The numbers were high & the forecast erratic. But we continued to eat & make jokes. Everyone thought it was strange. No one said anything.

Nothing bad had really happened. Not to us, at any rate. A flood somewhere, maybe two? What was a little rain? Weren't so many people happy for the unusual sun & snow days? We heard about far-off places like Syria with a vague sense of something wrong, but dinner was on the stove. A friend in Uzbekistan (where on earth is Uzbekistan?) complained of 50 degree temperatures...We couldn't even comprehend it.

It isn't real if I don't see it. It sounded crazy & there were things to get done... 

 

I stared at the silent screen upon the wall.

I wondered if this was the beginning of the end. Would our children--should they even exist or survive to see another 10....20...30 years or decades--teach each other that THIS was the moment when it all began? When the world changed & tore itself to pieces (and us with it) to find some sense of balance....and we did nothing?

I listened to my friends & played with my food & tried not to ask myself where the meat on my plate came from & why it was so cheap--the only thing I could afford. I said nothing.

 

We watched foreign men with guns & explosions happening half a world away & thought, "This is not my war." We devoured pop stars & tag lines & diets & clothing, as though they could feed us. Our conversations turned from human interactions to emojis & hashtags--distancing ourselves from each other; distancing ourselves from the reality that all things change & all things end; distancing ourselves from ourselves...distracted & waiting for a tomorrow that one day, for each of us, would never come--frantically trying not to feel the fear that outside, the world was still as wild as it ever had been.

Eventually...we learned not to talk about the weather.