Sunday, April 19, 2015

screw sunsets

i was walking my sister's dog because i was bored. It was a Sunday so boring that it was giving me an existential crisis, and I needed to highlight it with something. That day was one of the 4 days a year that it rains here in Southern California, and incidentally I had washed my car the day before.

Tire spray and everything...
It wasn't just one of those days where the rain comes so lightly that it looks like a single small rain cloud that passes by. Like where you can avoid it literally by crossing the street. This was the real deal. There were enough clouds to actually block the sun (helped by the fact that it was about 5 PM). No; scratch that, the sky was cloud. It was a gray kind of day. If it was a wizard, it would be Gandalf the Grey. If it was a trashy sex book, it would be 50 Shades of Grey. If it was a recalled California governor, it would be Gray Davis.

With his Grey Hair

Having done the Netflix equivalent of eating myself sick that day, some leftover animal part of me (that evolution forgot to sweep up) shouted "the hell with this!" and I grabbed the leash. I was wearing shorts, a V-neck, and had grabbed my thinnest jacket. The temperature outside had reached around 60F. Out here, an outfit like that is crazy talk in that kind of weather. Suicidal even.

Get into the cellar!

We didn't get far before I had an important realization. We got outside of the apartment complex, and were a few blocks out. The sky was grey, it was cold and raining juuuuust a little bit. My jacket and hair were wet, my glasses were flecked, and breathing through my nose was quite refreshing. I live where Santa Ana meets Cost Mesa, and a few corporate high-rises can be seen from the residential streets. I was gazing at the hazy red safety lights at the roof of one of the buildings, and in the midst of everything I just wrote, I had a thought. I think in complete sentences, and what scrolled between my ears was:

"I think this is that feeling people say they get, when they see a sunset"

The time-honored standard for a moment of nature-induced, euphoric serenity is a sunset. The kind where clouds are make the sky look pink and orange. It makes some people emotional, makes them feel glad to be alive, makes them contemplate their place in the universe. Others will put the thing on Instagram. Countless peoples' Facebook posts will try to convince you that this is where it's at, and the best places on Earth require sunscreen. These people are not your friends.

Pictured: Bullshit

They are liars, charlatans, aaaandd... maybe criminals, you never know. Whenever I see a sunset, it just looks like the sky to me, same as it always was. It happens once a day. I'm a strange little creature, admittedly. Friends (around whom I'm comfortable enough to complain honestly) know that I love cold, wet weather. Part of it is a holdover from my days as a 240-pound 'whatever-this-is', whose internal temperature would reach discomfort before the hat even dropped. Another part is my curs├ęd sinus cavities, that crave cool moisture.

The fact that I don't usually share in peoples' enjoyment of the sun had me worried for a while, like there was something about the "normal" human experience that I was missing out on. Not just when it comes to admiring the sky, but in just about every facet of life. It's a fear I have a lot actually; that I might be "defective" in some way, and am not processing the normal human joys that I always hear so much about. I wonder if I'm less healthy or functional than most, because it certainly would explain a lot.

But when I was out in the cold, some part of me understood that this was probably that feeling that all the hype was about. I was capable of feeling it too, but a different trigger was required. So I felt something significant that day: I felt like a person instead of a handsome, handsome robot. It felt something like this, except I'm not gangly:


Every part of it was great. We crossed the street and walked through the park, walked up a few more streets and even found a school that I didn't know was there. I've lived here for years and had no idea. It's just a school, sure, but it felt like a discovery. Even coming home, and peeling off my now-soaked jacket and socks, was strangely euphoric. The dog was wet and consequently smelled bad, so I took the opportunity to bathe him. That was fun too.

As far as what I'm exactly supposed to make of it, though, I'm not sure. For all the rambling I can do about how satisfying and rare it was, I'm at a loss for what else to say about it. The best part of it is I'm not as different as I thought, which isn't always something to be excited about, but I'll take it in this case. In the face of all those anxieties I just "admitted" to having, I can honestly say: It beats the hell out of a sunset. 

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