fleeing the smoke

our conversation while walking under starlight skies, amidst towering cedars, spirits soft from lush hot springs is about where the fk we can go tomorrow to be able to breathe without being sick, and if there is any way we can show up for work and school in coming days. it is majestic where we are, and we are here because we fled smoke and dizziness and nausea. she after doing healing work in a shelter near the fires and me after being in my bed at home, struggling to breathe and to think - many miles from the fires but not far enough to breathe safely even indoors. we drove for four hours to find clear air, but this weekend the rooms anywhere near here have filled up from those fleeing, and camping is below freezing at night. brainstorming possibilities of where next, we are grateful to have resources to get us to the best option that emerges. the only thing we know is that we can't breathe well enough to go home.

a different dear friend landed in town Wed night to teach a workshop. I swooped her to tales of the descent into Oakland as armageddon, thickest dark grey smoke, not passing through a cloud but soot as air for over ten minutes. she tried to turn right back around and fly out, but despite photos and harmful air quality reports, her employer wouldn't let her cancel. she convinced a grocery store manager to give us masks they were distributing to employees - simple ones, not the recommend N95. Later when I went to Home Depot to try to buy a better mask they literally laughed at me - it has been days since they have had any in stock.

In a Skype session with a client today, she had to dip out of trancework to make sure she wasn't under evacuation order, in the east bay.

This is not a woe-is-me message - I imagine returning to my rented home when the toxic air is no longer everywhere. Being able to leave, and still having a home to return to, both feel like luxury.

Many of my people in the Bay Area seem to be in this paradox of grateful to be untouched by the fires and not untouched at all. Confused by the expectation of life as normal when the air we breathe is anything but. Relieved by conversations in which people are not acting like this is business as usual, as if we need permission to name the impact of what is and to acknowledge the toxicity. Those beyond the Bay keep asking if we are safe. For many of us answer is yes and is also no. Time for a more nuanced question.

Taya Shere