9.6 / by laurel

This is the solo. The part where I deliver the monologue; the crux of the tale about my life. This is the part where I tell you that I think about earthquakes no less than three times a day.

Oh, sure. People think about a lot of things in their waking hours; meandering thoughts of sex and food woven into their mental fabric with indestructible fiber. But I think of earthquakes. (Occasionally I'll consider bombs, fires, amputations, or explosions, but chiefly I think about tectonic plates and disintegrating concrete.) Even now, sitting at my desk, the faintest rumble from a passing vehicle triggers within me a tiny release of adrenaline. I am ready to fight. Or flight. A typical day goes something like this:

I was driving on the freeway when the Big One hit.

I was in my living room when the Big One hit.

I was on the fourth level of the Getty underground parking garage when the Big One hit.

I was watching a foreign film when the Big One hit.

I was at Trader Joe's shopping the long aisles of America for sale when the Big One hit.

I was sleeping under a ceiling fan when the Big One hit.

And so on.

Recently I went on vacation. At Alamo Rentals in Maui, the palm trees are heavy with languor and the presence of commerce seems oddly out of place. Tourists huddle under the shade of an overhang, checking paperwork and squinting at cars in the lot. I regard them fondly; All those lovely folks, rounded at the edges and pale with electric blue veins drawing words on thighs, thighs sheathed in shorts, pockets bulging with fat wallets. A Mustang emerges from the car wash, golden in color, naked and wet. Palm trees weep at this and the tourists just keep coming, jiggling with hope.

I imagine that most of these people hail from a place generally unconcerned with earthquakes. Or democrats. In fact, I'm fairly certain that the primary cause of death for most of these tourists is the Mighty Tornado, or possibly a zeitgeist known as "Super Size." I myself am more terrified of being eaten alive by an octopus than death by Tornado, that's just how dormant a threat it is. Nevertheless, in the parking lot of the Maui Alamo Rentals, watching the hedonistic orgy of Seabrings and PT Cruisers, I wonder if any of those kindly tourists ever think,

I was in the parking lot of Applebee’s when the Twister hit.

I doubt it.

For some reason even when I'm not in Los Angeles, she's still on my mind; he rambling estate whose master and mistress are undeserved wealth and abject lust. I'm always in LA when the Big One hits, always cruising the roads or shuffling past 9-foot fences where bums piss into papery walls of bougainvillea. Even now, standing in the lobby of a 5 star hotel so polished and smooth it looks as though the whole shebang is carved out of ivory and light. Azure pools tremble lightly at the clock-clock of flat-heeled sandals, and I think perhaps the Big One is hitting LA now, devouring it whole, the jaws of the 10 and 110 freeways finally gobbling up the mess once and for all.

I'm sure the terror-filled inner monologue that kills me under crumbling buildings or fallen freeway overpasses is a kind of symptom of something greater, but for now I'd like to think of it not as a fit of morbid speculation, but as my loving tribute to Los Angeles. Because it’s not really my own death that has me so enthralled; Los Angeles is best described as an entropic city, and I am rightfully obsessed with this very fact.
Los Angeles herself, like so many of her forever-young citizens, is determined not to die. And I’m determined not to die with her. Alongside the youthful brigade, raising our fists toward the sun’s reflection at the tops of skyscrapers, scraping at the pithy remains of youthful idealism, we squirm in unison, wailing toward the sea, “We will never die, no, not us!”

It would take something like an earthquake to negate this fact, after all.