attachment, 4 // place

I descended from the Angeles National Forest at 4,000 feet of elevation and got my first glimpse into the valley. Perhaps because I typically drive back into LA in the wee hours of morning and night, I don’t see the buildup of car exhaust that I saw at 3PM over LA County.

“Oh damn,” I said aloud. Was it worse than it had been since I left two years ago? Worse than when I was here in December? Perhaps it was just an exception, one particular bad day.

These particularly bad days are likely happening more and more often in high density cities. In Salt Lake City, there’s the Inversion– the phenomenon in which mountains and wind patterns trap all of the smog over the city rather than dispersing it out across the desert. Days when higher risk people have to stay indoors or risk respiratory distress or illness.

And I know that I am contributing to the problem with the journeying that I do in my small vehicle. Not only just within California now, but all the way across Nevada and Utah and Wyoming and Colorado. It is a way of traveling and living that I am used to, that I romanticize, that I have tried to separate from and that I have all but given up separating from. I day dream about switching to bike touring everywhere I go. I imagine being able to live a life of less travel, period.

But my imagination is not quite good enough; I still want what I know is not sustainable. I still have those old Great American Road Trip yearnings. I still want to criss-cross the country in my little car. I still want to climb in the many areas I’ve seen in photos and videos and read about. Why shouldn’t I have those experiences, my more petulant self asks, when other people go ahead with them?.

Grace Lee Boggs’ work encourages us to “grow our souls” and that we have to reimagine and reinvent everything. That we have to be able to reconfigure our lives around what we haven’t tried. Alice Walker tells us that we have the knowledge inside us that will take us out of the pit that we’ve fallen into.

So I need to expand my imagination. I drive perhaps 10,000 miles a year, including all of my trips. That doesn’t include the miles that I travel in someone else’s car.

What is it that I really want and need to experience, and why? What else can I let go of?

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be willing

the six-hour drive
is easier every time

i’ve become adept
at snack-based
stay-awake strategies

my foot has
plenty of
stamina for the
gas pedal
on those
Grapevine inclines

makes me think
i might be ready
to extend the
distance

aim my car
at farther-away
places

make all those
road trip visions
a reality

so much
is possible

i need only
be willing.

into flesh

dry air
bright sun
make me forget
the blemishes
on my skin
the imperfect
proportions
of my bones
and muscles
let me be
inside my body
and think of
nothing
but your embrace

unseasonable

it seems i was not
meant to experience
a wet winter
this year, either

last year
i spent december
and january
treading dust
fourteen hours ahead
of california
sweating at night
scratching mosquito bites
waiting for the cool winds
to finally fall
a few glorious 75 degree nights
were all i got

this year
i expected
more wet

i bought my
first pair of
rain-pants in
anticipation of
bay area rain

became anxious
about the lack
of fenders on my bike

remembered with
fondness the
torrential december in LA
when i biked
in rush hour traffic
along jefferson boulevard
arrived at work
soaked from thigh to toes
made the space heater
under my desk work hard
to dry my pants by lunchtime
how i endured a month of
wet socks and shoes,
i’m not sure

and here, now that i am
a little wiser and a bit
more sensible and
have a somewhat shorter
commute

california is
all dried up

the sun’s heat
devours morning clouds

and i am thinking
of all the reasons
it is terrible that
there is no rain

but memories of
san julian street
between fifth
and eighth

where the rain meant
quieter, calmer walks
between buildings
but so many more
people shivering

make me a little bit
thankful that
it is unseasonably dry
unseasonably warm

though the next
weeks and months
and more

are worrisome

it’s worth seeking
some solace
in the immediate

besides

the earth never
promised us
seasonal
consistency

and what
have we done lately
to earn it?