On Friday morning, I took this photo in Santa Monica, looking north toward Malibu.
At that point, the fires had been burning overnight and not dying down. I say fires – plural – because Los Angeles is dealing with multiple burn areas. As of this writing, none of them are slowing and fire fighters are struggling to achieve any containment.
After snapping the pic, I went into my friend’s place for a painting session. Turned out my friend was providing shelter for a family who had been forced to evacuate their home due to the fires. I’d met this family before, so they were familiar to me. The kids joined in during the painting session and that bit of time was fun. Ordinary. The kids didn’t seem to have any cares and all was right with the world. Later, when I talked to their mom, it became clear that she didn’t know if their home was intact or not. She couldn’t find out much of anything and just had to wait. And wait.
The fires have exploded now and though I live in an area that isn’t in danger, the smell of smoke is everywhere. I’ve heard from other friends who’ve had to evacuate and for so many people – so many friends – waiting is all they can do.
I was supposed to go beach-camping this weekend, up the coast. The fires put an end to those plans. I’m okay with that because Life isn’t about my plans. Lower-case l is my world, not upper-case L. That world is bigger than how I roll my eyes when I’m out of half-and-half for my coffee. It’s bigger than how I wonder where I might get take-out when I don’t want to cook dinner. Or how I have to wait to buy shoes, until they’re on sale. Or how I sometimes have to choose one social event over another, because I’m too lazy to attend multiple outings. My lower-cased life is pretty damned good. I have struggles and pains and wants and disappointments and still… My house is standing. My middle-aged health is tenable. My will is strong. Pretty damned good.
More and more people are being displaced by the fires. Lives have been lost. Property, too. Folks are doing their best to get through this, to survive. Some are even managing to shield their children from the uncertainty, to help them to see this day as being as ordinary as any other. I’m amazed.