It’s the time of year in Los Angeles where the dry heat is warm until it becomes unbearable in the sun. The smell of suntan oil conjures memories of sun soaked days as a child before we found out how dangerous the sun really is.
It’s also fire season. It’s the time of year when you can often step outside, smell the smoke from a wildfire, and stand in the ash fall that drifts through blowing winds and lands softly after the smolder of embers have exhausted their fuel. As I left work this afternoon, there was a purple cloud far above me and the hint of the fires that created it barely kissed the skies in Burbank from Santa Clarita. I could see more than smell it.
The irony of fire containment and controlling a fire is in the way that fire is controlled. You have to destroy the fuel that would feed the fire in order to keep it from consuming what it wants to. Firefighters will actually create a controlled backfire to create a line to herd flames into consuming all they can and dying out. Containment means there is nothing left for the fire to burn.
I lost control tonight. Frustration became rage and I was speeding along the 10 freeway under a yellowed moon that seemed too large to escape. My friend tonight is Jose Cuervo and he would tell you I’m sugar coating things but I was driving way too fast and the music filling my car couldn’t calm the rage in my head.
Like a wildfire, there was a perfect set of conditions and the spark that set the flames ablaze was small. It caught me by surprise. I had set my own fire line ablaze and for the longest time, all of my dried branches were already burned down. Nothing could touch me because all of my rage was spent. Until tonight.
Most people that know me feel I’m a calm person. I generally am. I don’t get angry often and usually keep my perspective geared toward who I want to be. That requires burning my fuel so no one else can.
Since the 7th grade I’ve gotten several compliments on the size of my breasts. What can I say? Grandma’s endowment is envious to some. Today I was complimented on my boobs. It’s a thing. It happens. It happened all the time when I was dating online. Consistently, I deflect it with the realities of mature breasts. I have been pregnant, and nursed babies. These food bags have filled with milk and now look like what I imagine a retired stripper’s breasts would look like. It’s not a pretty picture, especially when I can still hear the dialogues given to me by the ex. I deflect the attention because allowing life to spring forth where it was once dead and had been burned down only means it will burn to embers at another date in a later fire season.
My autistic sons went through extreme sensory integration dysfunction as toddlers. When they discovered they could create textures to play in and they could pull it out of their diapers, I went through a phase of freaking out. They would often sit quietly and play in the poop they just made. Just the other day the kids left and I pulled couches away from the wall. There were snack sized wrappers for the foods they ask for from the grocery store. After a few minutes I started laughing. That part of me was broken and it now looks different because it can. The fires have burned out on that rage.
The inability to illicit a reaction on small things is more about the many ways all life around me has burned. It was controlled. It was consuming. It is all around me and existing during firestorms means I can take the heat and I’m not afraid of the licking flames. There’s nothing left to burn. There is beauty and strength in these ashes.