If you’ve been watching the news out of California, or just checking in at my Facebook page, you know that we are having quite the winter. No snow, no blizzards–I think I maybe heard hail on the skylights for a couple of minutes back in December. But rain…oh, my goodness. Rain. I live just a little ways up into the Santa Cruz mountains, where the slides have been closing and washing out roads right and left.
And, yes, I know we’ve been complaining about the drought for years.
But this post isn’t a complaint. This post is a story, and this post is a reflection. And I’m not sure that the post would have caused the reflection, so quickly or so clearly, in any other year before this one.
We’ve had a couple of long drives to get home this winter. In the first slide, it took me nine hours to go a distance that, in any normal Bay Area traffic, would have been at most an hour and a half. Long story, inaccurate navigation software, and an inability to believe that they wouldn’t open the highway soon. Since then, if it looked like the roads were going to be trouble, I’ve been meeting my husband at his office, and he’s been taking us home through the back roads–he rides them all the time on his bike and knows them, and he isn’t as prone to the OMG-IS-THAT-A-TREE-DOWN anxiety as I am. So there were nights we took a long time to get home, but we got home.
Until earlier this week. We went out to dinner in town, perhaps foolishly. While we were there, another slide hit, this one between town and our house. And all the back roads we had been taking had been closed for at least a week.
We were fine. We stayed at a family member’s house, and we went out to breakfast the next morning, and when it looked like the highway wasn’t going to be open anytime soon, we took a new, slightly longer route home. It was a bit of a pain and a bit of an adventure. And, even with the night out, we know that–compared to plenty of people in our mountains–we have still been incredibly lucky.
And yet…it was unsettling. We’d actually each been carrying a bag of spare clothes in our cars, in case of this happening, but we’d hadn’t thought about grabbing them when we went for dinner. We didn’t have our computers–for home or for work–and neither one of us had a book (!!!!). And Alice was up at the house, and we’ve left her overnight before, and I knew when we did get home, she’d be happily asleep on the couch (and she was). But of course I worried about her, and I worried about when the highway would open, and I wondered if the new route would turn out to be closed somewhere along the way. And I didn’t have a change of clothes, and I didn’t have a toothbrush, and I wasn’t sure when I was going to get either.
It was all, very much, nothing more than a small inconvenience. And I knew that. Still, until we actually got on the road–and, okay, yes, even while we were on the road–I was kind of grumpy. I was grumpy, because my equilibrium was shoved a little off balance, and because I didn’t know for sure when I was going to get home and I didn’t know for sure where I was going to sleep that night.
Yeah. I got a tiny, super tiny, taste of what so many people live with every day, for days on end. People who are homeless and who, with these rains, have been flooded out of the places they try to rest and sleep. People who are refugees who have left their old homes forever, and still haven’t got a clue if they will ever have anything they can call a new home. People who don’t know where the next mortgage or rent payment is going to come from. People who have four walls with a roof, but who don’t feel comfortable or safe inside them.
Lucky, lucky, lucky. That’s what I am.
And those others are really not lucky. Even less so, obviously, now that we have a completely uncaring man in the White House and a whole crap-load of uncaring men and women in the Senate and the House.
No answer, no solution. A story and a reflection. And maybe, just maybe, another reason to stay in the battle.