Hope, by Susana Laborde-Blaj
There is a rock formation at the Bean Hollow Beach that has some holes where I can place my whole body in a fetal position. In Half Moon Bay, the texture of the sand varies as I walk, and I have been watching how birds have different behaviors depending on the time of day, I have watched when the pelicans just fly over the sea, close to the beach, back and forth, like they just want to show how they own the space, and a moment in the day when they all suddenly fly down meteorite-like into the water, to catch some fish.
Last Monday, after I saw a storm from Half Moon Bay, there was a small fish on the sand, who was very much alive and appeared to have been carried by the sea to the shore, probably wishing for legs and arms to crawl back into the water. A woman who was walking in front of me took it and threw it back into the sea. She continued her walk and couldn’t see that the next wave brought the fish back to the sand. I took it, walked into the water with it in my cupped hands, and threw it back into the water. I can remember his one eye fixed in a stare toward the sky, the sun, or maybe even looking at me. I felt that it wanted to tell me a story, something big and terrible, something that had happened, was happening, or was about to happen, and didn’t have words to express it. I thought it was a warning or a call for help, maybe both.
A little later that day me and all of the other people on the beach stood up and stopped everything else for a moment, all thoughts and actions, to watch 5 dolphins swimming very close to the shore. So much joy to see them!
A moment ago, far from the ocean, I could see a hummingbird getting mad at another one for taking sips of nectar in his favorite bush, and chasing it. Gladly for the other hummingbird, he was also a hummingbird, so he could very quickly react and fly away, both of them hissing. Or were they just having fun?
I have been observing my own cycles, emotions that take turns, sadness for what is dying, the world’s grief and fear, my own grief and fear, my gratitude toward all people helping others, my irritation and frustration when I am teaching online and get disconnected from the internet, and also the joy that it is to connect with people, even if it is from a distance.
There is a taste of smoke in the sky and in the air I breathe, and I feel something like evaporated tears that live everywhere in my body, making it a bit achy and dull. I feel a subtle and persistent knot in my throat, an almost imperceptible pressure in my chest, and the mind wanting to check one more time social media, as if I could get the hug of a thousand people there.
There is more information about the fires, I see that many people are helping others: restaurants offering free meals to evacuees, places being adapted to serve as refuge, people offering help to transport and shelter animals, and of course our first response, fire fighters that are risking their lives to save others.
Why, in the middle of this sometimes crazy, absurd, frightening, scary, beautiful and mysterious world, a restaurant called The Barn, in Half Moon Bay, decides to give away free meals to all evacuees until they run out of food? What moves them and many others to help?
What was that fish trying to say? Did the dolphins have a message for me? Did I listen?
Is there hope for the human race?