After two full days spent in pajamas, eyes dripping, blowing copious amounts of mucous from my nasal passages, and coughing, I finally felt well enough to get up and get out of the house. I haven’t had a cold hit me this hard in a long time, plus I had three days in a row with Miss G and Miss C, who literally wore me out. Anyone know where I could get my hands on a hazmat suit for the next time those girls want to share their germs?
Alison and I met up and we went for a walk near her apartment. She lives up the hill from the bay and there is nicely paved walking path that goes for miles along the water. We actually ended up at a new development that sits on what was once a smelter. This place is ultra-ritzy, comes with overpriced condos, shops and restaurants, and it is all built on contaminated ground from the smelter…did I mention that? There is no way that I would ever consider living on that land. I don’t care how many assurances the EPA wants to declare regarding full removal of toxic soils and water and a now safe environment. You can’t ever scrape enough lead and arsenic contaminated soil away to make me believe that it’s okay to pay money to live there, or even live there for free. A huge condo sits on the hill overlooking this project. That development replaced a school that once housed the program I used to teach for. The first time I entered that building I was told emphatically that I should NEVER drink any water from the taps in that building. I often wondered how many years the children attending that school drank from the taps. Today I wondered what the folks who bought those units are drinking…
Anyway, it was pleasant to be outside in the sun, but high-priced, possibly deadly reality overshadowed most of our conversation. And, we’re still unclear as to the purpose of the large areas of cleared, mounded ground, covered in ultra-heavy black tarps with that venting type system you often see winding over the landscape at a landfill. I can’t say as either of us have ever seen a construction site quite like that…
I visited with the cat, who clearly does not miss me at all. She did sit in my lap for a bit though, and was happy to eat a few cat treats near me, but then went back to sleep in the corner.
We talked of Oklahoma, and the recent earthquake and the likelihood that fracking was the cause, and the subsequent shut-down of wells since the occurrence. There was a short period of time, when she was newly graduated and desperately searching for employment, that Alison actually considered applying for positions associated with this process. Passing thoughts really, as she knew that she could never live with herself working as a geologist for an oil company.
We talked over end-of-life issues. That isn’t a topic we often spend time on, but I recently made a document stating my wishes and directions. My oldest daughter is the primary agent. Alison and her brother are the alternates. Alison is my supremely logical child so I thought it a perfect time to reiterate some of the things we’ve discussed before. Stuff like organ donation, my desire for simplicity above all else, tossing me off a mountain top because in life I am terrified of heights…things like that.
She mentioned hearing some loud noises the night before, then noticing police activity just a few blocks down from her apartment. Ironically, there is a police station exactly where she assumed the action to be. I had an email from her when I got home with a link to a news story. A 41-year-old man had been shot, found on the lawn, transported to the hospital and died two hours later. No suspects, no one in custody. So there’s that to contend with. Gangs – likely. Drugs – just as likely. She happens to live in what has long been known as one of the worst areas of that city. It’s hit and miss, with pockets of neighbors who are trying, and then those who won’t, can’t, or simply don’t have the means. Safe isn’t a word I can use to describe much of the area that surrounds her, although I’m not sure how safe any place really is. We both agreed, as we were driving back to her apartment that the ultimate change agent for that area seems likely to be gentrification, but then all the amazing diversity and cultural enclaves that occupy the neighborhoods now will probably disappear. The families and lives that built this area and were once vibrant and crucial to their neighborhoods will be overtaken by money and people with homogeneous skin color. There’s a lot wrong with that picture.
I love the conversations that I have with Alison. I love that we can share opinions, even when we don’t necessarily agree. But most of the time we do agree, or are at least open to the others point of view.
I’m even okay that the cat really doesn’t care if I come to visit or not. She’s happy and seems content and has found the place she wants to be.
It was a good day.