rocky votolato has a point / by laurel

The Santa Ana winds have been blowing and there is static electricity in the air. Sometimes this means that on my long commute to work, when I whip around the curved spine of the 60 West onramp, I can see the city and it's shimmering facets: a mirror for who we think we are, or who we'd like to be. Other times it means that as my tires dip down onto the rugged, guttural drawl of the 10, the entire city is floating in a grimy sort of haze.

It's November 7th, and it's 95 degrees outside. The first rain of the season was Friday, October 13th, but I was out of town. My summer is unending, a real bitch of a season--clinging with arthritic claws to the vestiges of carefreeness.

But there is nothing carefree about the freeways. The traffic has returned, a massive, clonking hoard of metal and mental girth. There is nothing carefree about the work week, be it in school or on the job; the demands of the season are upon us all, an iron vise of responsibility when the weather would like us to believe we have none. These should be harsher times; unforgiving weather to make a monday even worse. But instead the heat eddies in pockets stitched into the bloated rump of the southland, making us all believe that our Indian summer just might extend all year.

Nothing lasts forever. Technically I've been absent from my old stomping grounds of Keizer, Oregon far longer than I have neglected this blog, but in each case there is a homecoming, at once awkward and nostalgic. I'd like to say that the concept of going home fills me with 'life lessonisms' and gives me a clear perspective on, say, just about anything relating to the Prodigal Sondrome (syndrome and son. Clever, no?), and yet...

I realized while some things change very little as time passes, other things do. My house now has a red door. A door painted red. For the better part of 10 years my parents change nothing about the final filaments of my childhood, and now the door is painted red. I don't know why that's a big deal. Really. It just struck me, as things often do--a veritable kicking-in-the-face for four days--that even the house I came of age in, this immovable beacon of stability, has irrevocably changed.

It's for the better, I assume, as wood floors and new granite counter tops usually are a step up, but they are unfamiliar, nonetheless. Like most change (the single-syllable achilles heel that may as well be a four-letter-bomb in my vocabulary), it's always for the better. But a step in the right direction doesn't always mean that the return to something that was once familiar and now is not won't be tinged with grief. A small moment of silence for something--be it significant or not--that has died, and a part of me who always dies with it.

Last night I walked home from a friend's apartment in the deserted pre-dawn hours of midnight, and it occurred to me that I'd like nothing more than to shove my hands deep into pockets and feel cold. But it was 62 degrees with a fine dusting of humidity rolling in off the ocean. It was a summer night like all the rest, and yet, life around me has completely and utterly moved on. I'd like to move along with it, and when these damn Santa Ana winds stop blowing, I think I just might.