November 10, 2018
This is the view from our kitchen window at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. If you are searching for the sun, direct your eye to that speck of muted brightness behind the palm tree. It’s easy to look right at it–the air acts as filtering lens.
The city smells like a campfire. Not the kind that you can escape by walking a few yards toward fresher air, but the kind that is everywhere when you step outside, and that seeps through your drafty windows and under the cracks in under your doors, settling into your head as a dull ache and in your eyes as a gentle sting. We are surrounded by the areas we are luckier than — Thousand Oaks in one direction, Malibu in the other. I heard on the radio that school where I sometimes teach a screenwriting course is being used as an evacuation site. As devastating as both of these fires are for the people in these local areas–in a few cases, people I’ve met and know–apparently neither as destructive as the fire that continues up north, near a town called Paradise. I’m planning a trip to Northern California for early December, but now, as I research routes, the roads we hope to travel have all been closed.
I’ve felt adjacent to the line of fire in another sense as well this week. The fire in Thousand Oaks has overshadowed the event the happened just a day before the fire began — a dozen people were shot and killed at a bar in Thousand Oaks. Friends have been posting memories of eating there over the years. The roommate of a friend’s daughter who attended Pepperdine was killed.
And the Thousand Oaks shooting redirected my gaze from the shooting that took place exactly a week before, at a yoga studio in my once-home of Tallahassee, Florida, where one of the victims was a student in the same FSU English Department that I belonged to.
Not me. But close to me. I want to put my arms around the world and say, sorry. Sorry for your loss.