on isolation

I took my dog, Stella, for a walk today along the beach.  It was so beautiful. The air is so damn clean.  Los Angeles hasn’t been this clear in my life time.  You can see every wave in the mountains above Malibu, the jagged inlets of Santa Monica, and the falling isthmus of Catalina.

But it feels like there is a fragility in the air as well.  Everyone is speaking a little fearfully, a little unknowingly, about the next few weeks, the next few months.  It is like we are all on the brink–like we are standing on the edge of a cloud.  It’s buoyancy only an illusion.

When Stella and I turned to go back home I immediately noticed a woman lying on the pavement who had not been there minutes earlier.  She was scorched by the sun.  Hot bubbles of skin erupted all over her face and legs.  She held a lit cigarette no longer than an inch long between her fingers, and her belongings were strewn behind her.  I looked around to see if anyone else was reacting.  No one stopped; no one pulled out his or her phone to call 911; no one even glanced at her.  Every walker or runner or biker was carefully spaced along the walkway –continuing their repetitive discourse of virus and economy.  Was she a threat?  A public nuisance?  What did everyone see lying on the pavement?  I went to a lifeguard on the sand.  He motioned to me to walk to the other side of his truck.  He rolled down the window just a crack.  I explained the situation, and he drove his truck over to find her.  She was conscious now, and I left them talking.  I don’t know what happened to her.  I heard several sirens later, but I don’t know if they were for her.

I felt an ache that I once felt as a homesick child.  It’s an expectant ache–one that needs a release.  And so I went upstairs and cried.  Stella licked my face.

There is a fragility; a bucket about to tip.

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