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June 5, 2005

June Gloom

I blame it on the weather.

Los Angeles, notoriously bright, glittery hard Los Angeles, suffers each year under several weeks of heavy coastal cloud cover, making the entire city a grey, gloomy place. The dreary overcast skies arrive each June, hence the name. June Gloom.

(For those of ya'll still covered in snow, are you crying into your morning coffee for the plight of the poor, sad little Los Angelenos who are depressed by an overcast morning?)

But June Gloom is a powerful thing for people who see sunshine 335 days a year and twice on Sundays. Apparently I have forgotten the grumpy, monsoonal Southern weather of my youth and I have fully acclimated to this California paradise, and now I'm a little gloomy gus myself thanks to the marine layer.

Last night a few girls stopped by for a sandwich and some libation, and before night's end I was crying into my wineglass, not so much out of missing him, exactly, as missing the human contact. Little small things, holding hands, getting your head patted, human touch that you want but don't realize you need, like air or water. And this morning I just couldn't sleep, so I got up at six, and drove up to the store for coffee and a Sunday paper, and the air was dense (even humidity is a rarity here) and the sky was grey and wrinkled like Freud's underpants, and I don't have the good sense God gave a mule because I put on some James Taylor and put the windows down on my Jeep and drove on the near-empty streets thinking of every grey sky I had ever shared with him, in Poland and Switzerland and Prague and driving through Denmark, while eating crackers in Iceland, wandering back roads of Norway, while listening to James Taylor in a diesel-powered Volkswagon in Belgium, while on my very first trip anywhere, which was of course with him.

And we traveled so much because it was the only time I had him all to myself -- trapped with me in a car in a foriegn country -- the only time we were happy. But you can't travel all the time. You can't keep charging things on credit cards trying to buy a little time, a little attention, a little love trapped in a Volkswagon. And yesterday my mail brought a court date, which I was sure DID NOT bother me one bit, me! who's Moving On, and living out loud, and not crying into the jack daniels coffee cup anymore, me! the one who goes out and meets strangers. I was sure I was just past all this nonsense.

But ya'll know. It comes and goes.

And people have a unique realtaionship to the weather, it can take you to places you had forgotten you'd ever been to. The smell of fall reminds you of school and new notebooks. The first cold night is football season, or hot spiced tea. The first warm, balmy night is Tracy Chapman songs and cold beer. I think I moved away from the South because the lushness, the denseness of the humidity and the green and the rain and the heat were too passionate, too ardent, dangerous to a young girl with a vivid imagination who wants, endlessly, the wanting and the wanting to inhale life, to breathe it.

Los Angeles suits me most of the time, dry and hot and cluttered. But the June Gloom makes you a little pensive. It's a weather pause between Winter (also known as "It's 59 degrees, where are my Uggs?") and Summer (a.k.a. "Road Construction.") When we have real weather, it comes as such a shock, a surprise that anything but sun can occur day in and day out. The wind is an event, the rain makes national headlines, even fire and mud are weather out here, all big, all dramatic, all something that gets strangers talking to each other at Starbucks. The Gloom, however, is subtle. You forget about it and then it sneaks up on you, blankets the city in grey and quiet.

As I get older, and more divorced with each passing day, and also now that I have all this time on my hands to contemplate my navel (and develop theories about weather for chrissakes), I think I want some rain. Some snow. Some lightening. Something lush, or harsh, or fresh, or wide open with no traffic and no smog and no sadness. Something.

In truth, I have no idea what I want. Maybe I just want the sun to come back out, and the whole damn thing to be over with, and also I want it never to be over with, because it never will be, will it? There will always be a song, a smell, a moment that reminds you, won't there? There will always be a day or a passing glance or some shared moment that makes you miss something, and makes you have to pull your car over on the side of the road because you're crying too hard, and you miss it and you feel nostalgic for what you had, even if it wasn't that great at the time.

And this I blame, for now, entirely on the weather.

Posted by laurie at June 5, 2005 10:34 AM