“Today I learned that Kate is a romantic.” One of my students proclaimed, walking out of class.
I am always surprised when people know my name. It makes me feel famous even if I have just told it to them. Even if I am the instructor and the only one talking and I’ve met you a hundred times. Still.
“I’m a romantic?”
“Debussy, Liszt, Chopin?”
“I tried to fit some Mozart in there too but it just didn’t work.”
“It’s OK; you had Bach.”
I don’t know how much classical music it takes to make one a romantic. Or how much Krishna Das it takes to burn out on the yoga scene. I imagine there’s a recipe in there somewhere but I’d rather it be a mystery.
“So,” my student said, “what do you see when you look out the window today? More like Boston or more like Chicago?”
It rained today and not a quick rain. An all-day adventure rain. Grey and cloudy, which before living in LA I would have told you were the same thing.
They are separate and unequal.
Foamy, spritzy clouds you wear like a stole when they roll in, pirates dredged from the ocean.
Faded photograph grey like all the light you know has been scratched away, kept at arm’s length.
Grey will always be Chicago. Grey like concrete, like abandoned playgrounds, like broad alleys behind three-flats with vinyl siding, also grey. Like October and February, both but separately.
Cloudy was Boston. Unsure but full, snowy and spitting.
So what do I see when I look out the window today? I wish I could tell you that it reminds me of something, that I feel a kinship to this weather even in a negative way.
Cloudy and grey together creates this entirely odd experience known as LA in the rain. The pirates have hijacked your vibrancy, holding it away in the mountains, and you navigate your day as though everything is familiar but wrong.
People keep asking me if I’m homesick and I don’t want to disappoint anyone when I say no. I feel homesick for people, not for places that so often remind me of how hard it is to be outside. To be a person.
It’s so strange that we have covered so much of the ground with pavement. We have taken this breathable space and smothered it, sealed it, capped it over with concrete. Why did we do that? I think about this when I walk around. LA gets a bad rep for being a sprawling mess of strip malls and roads, but the truth is if I space out enough, everything here reminds me of somewhere else. Nowhere is pristine nor fully alive, and when I look out the window all I see is rain.
Today I learned that I am a romantic.