They Don’t Call It Collapse…
You can’t make plans in 2030, it doesn’t make sense. From week to week, you could be displaced by a flood or fire or a disaster of a more personal scale. So out of politeness, we schedule things loosely to avoid talking about it too much. There’s still emails to send, and we’ve adjusted our greetings to reflect the uncertainty of these times.
It’s not like the denialists hoped it would be. They thought it would get warmer and stay there, like a thermostat, that the snow would melt and turn into a swim up bar. But the weather isn’t just hot. It’s chaos. Strange, singular events divorced from any calendar or cultural significance. It feels like Earth has abandoned us.
The small losses have been the hardest on me. I miss fireflies. I grieve autumns that smell like leaves and possibility. I cling to opportunities to wear my favorite coat. I know other people have it worse. There’s tragedy in other states we once thought only possible in other nations. And we use the same tactics to justify it.
As the danger gets closer, my own capacity for brutality and indifference is being tested. I try to romanticize the duality of it all by studying art from cruel time periods. People around me, good and smart people who care about all the right things, don’t want to talk about what’s happening. Instead, they say “It’s just a little hot out”, “It’s just a little smoky out”, “It’s just a little rain”… These rationalizations sound nice around the brunch table, like ice cubes clinking in sangria. But to me, they sound like biting down on a popsicle. It’s not that I hate optimism or fun. I just can’t stand the surreality of having to do so much to negotiate our existence on this planet.
Outwardly I smile. But once in my car, I shudder with impatience like a dog. In 2020, I thought it might be cleansing for me to go through a crisis, that it would be the reset I needed to finally stop taking things for granted and start writing my novel. I remember when word got out that the President was sick. There was a sense of shared elation that seemed to merit taking the day off. The snow day feeling was what I hoped it might be like when everyone finally understood our predicament.
But as the years went on, it became evident there would never be a common understanding. Just a steady degradation of what I could expect from life and from others. Even now, they don’t call it collapse…