As you burn for California, it, in turn, burns for you. You have wanted to be a part of it for all these years and then, when you finally arrived, it was as if it couldn’t contain your ardor and simply had to go up in flames in order to adequately mirror your intensity. You told yourself it wasn’t your fault. That your arrival just as the fire was ignited happened to be pure coincidence. The fanning of the flames of hell had nothing to do with you. Or did it? You had told yourself that you were not his daughter–Satan’s, that is–just because you were born to him–New York City, that is. That just because you came from a place diametrically opposed to California–a place that had been pitted against it for a few centuries now–didn’t mean that it was like throwing a gasoline-soaked rag into the brush when you (being that gasoline-soaked rag) showed up with your “essence.” If anything, it was New York that should have gone up in flames in response. Or, more in keeping with its own breed of natural disasters, it should have been battered by the most violent of hurricanes. Just another testament to the fundamental divide: California is fire, New York is water. New Yorkers would smugly remark that water puts out fire (not when it’s a grease fire, assholes–so suck on that).
Maybe your arrival was a curse they had put upon you back East. That losing someone as valuable as you, someone as “New York” as you, would result in California paying the price for taking one of the last few residents who gave a damn about that shitty city. The city that was always shitty, but had only recently been highlighted as such due to incredible circumstances: the closure of everything to prevent the spread of disease (where was such an NY reaction when AIDS was going around? Huh? Why did San Francisco put way more money into AIDS research if New York is so goddamned “gay friendly”? Sure, now it is. Because it’s profitable to be). But you knew, for quite a while, that California was the way, the light, the truth. You were just biding your time to make your exit. To come up with a strategy that would get you out once and for all and into the Promised Land that so many before you had made it to. That so many from the East fled to when that knave, Thomas Edison, gave them no other choice (only film enthusiasts will understand this allusion, which is probably why only Californians will).
Like you, they absconded to live a better, more peaceful life. One that was not plagued by the bullshit concerns of New York–so enmeshed in the corporate and financial greed that built it into the phallic cluster fuck it is today. And now, it’s your turn. Or was supposed to be. You let the thoughts of California invade you like a fever that finally manifested into this burning furor. You got drunk on one too many Old Hollywood movies convincing you that you yourself could become a star in an era that favors asteroids–a barrage of unmemorable faces all vying to impact you with their attempt at a viral video. Virality instead chose to take a new shape by the time you were ready to move to California. You had waited too long, and now, everything was essentially shut down. Or tinctured with fear. None of that sunny brightness you had envisioned as you started to put your large items in storage. Maybe California was offended you would bother to keep any of the old energy from New York. Felt that you should have gotten on board with its crystal method and been more attuned to how energy can affect even a place. Sensing that in some way you had not fully let go of New York in choosing to keep the possessions you had in your apartment there, perhaps California’s response was to rage with its fire of vengeance.
But no, this couldn’t all be your fault. It had to be at least partially Kimberly Guilfoyle’s as well. How could someone born and raised in San Francisco be so disgustingly conservative? And, more concerningly, how could she ever think of leaving beautiful Gavin behind for, retch, New York? You were starting to convince yourself of this as you drove your new car–a vintage Ford Mustang–into the gas station against the backdrop of flames. You think you saw Lana Del Rey looking particularly plump in a surgical mask standing outside with a bag of Doritos in hand. Nacho Cheese–not, as one might expect, Flamin’ Hot. She was too Caucasian to handle that kind of spice. Anyway, you thought about saying hello, but what if it wasn’t her (later, when she posts a picture of herself there on her Instagram, you’ll know that it was)?
A general feeling of unease courses through you. What are you supposed to do here, now… the way things are? There is absolutely nothing cooking other than flesh. You suppose you could work remotely like everyone else, but L.A. is already so isolating as it is–you thought you would at least be able to socialize in an office setting. You read that most of the talent agencies are shuttering their buildings. There goes your pipeline into the industry.
You moved into an apartment complex that looks like the one Betty in Mulholland Drive lives in. You think it might be much closer to where the LaBianca murders happened than you realize. You’re starting to get the impression that L.A. lore is coloring you with some strange feelings. Still, despite the days that pass in utter loneliness, staring out your window at night at the skunks and coyotes that pass by, you can’t help but still burn with the fervor. And you wish that you could stop because you know that it’s all your fault. If you could just calm down with your enthusiasm, so, too, could California. Because as you burn for it, it, in turn, burns for you.
2 thoughts on “As You Burn For California, It, In Turn, Burns For You”
Ha ha. I appreciate the Mulholland Drive reference, I think you provide an image of your place in a later post. After moving back to Calif. with my new spouse (from our tiny Paris, France apartment) there was this terrible earthquake (1989 World Series). So she freaked out, we moved to Miami (Hurricane Andrew, 1992). She freaked out again, we moved to another part of Florida, the divorce, a few more hurricanes, some awful Florida wildfires, I moved to the beach, more hurricanes, back to California and a ginormous earthquake not far from here, and now these fires. My son blames me, in jest.
I see you also wrote a wildfire story in 2017.