Each time I'm leaving California I feel like it's going to be the last look. Nothing seems to be permanent here and these temporary settlements let my European senses tingle with a feeling of imminent doom. The highways are always under construction without ever getting better, shops seems to come and go like the seasons, hardly noticeable here in Southern California, what was a beauty spa last time is now a Sushi bar, what was a drugstore is now a pet grooming salon. Many of the buildings have colorful facades with shacks behind them where the lights will flicker, and if there's a truck going by the whole construction starts shaking. If you live here, you'll get used to calling the plumber, to windows who don't close or don't open, to potholes, to power outages, to flooded streets, you'll get used to throwing away things and buying new ones, you'll get used to breast enlargement ads, you'll get used to guarantees that guarantee the impossible, you'll get used to fakin' it, here at the West Coast.
I look through the double glass of the little airplane window and see a whole country constantly fixing what constitutes its civilization, always running, always busy to avoid falling back, I see a society that needs an incredibly high throughput of energy and resources to maintain its level of complexity. And I can't but wonder what happens if this throughput gets any less. Fast forward some thousand years, only the beach will be there long after all the angels got lost. Each time I'm leaving California I'm wondering why.
Through the clouds I see a glimpse of North America every now and then. Approaching the Toronto area the buildings get denser, more streets, cars clogging the highways, large industrial areas, finally skyscrapers. I can't but find this manmade rash on the Earth's surface incredibly ugly, Toronto, LA, NYC, Chicago, London, Paris, Cape Town alike in their ugliness, spreading like a disease, still growing like we'd have 1.25 planets to live from.
One of 6.6 billion humans, in a tiny metal box above the clouds, going from here to there like too many times, I can't but be proud what we managed to achieve. All the infrastructure, all the logistics, all the scientific knowledge necessary to make these cities work, smoothly, providing food, water, shelter for millions of people, guaranteeing survival and creating a place to live, a place for culture, entertainment and the search for understanding.
The flight is in time. Due to "technical difficulties" with the baggage retrieval system we have to wait two hours for our luggage.
On the way back, it is dark outside, not much traffic on a late Sunday evening. A family van on the lane next to us. The father driving, the mother and the two kids in the backseats all have a laptop open and are watching different movies, their faces ghostly in the light of flickering stories from elsewhere. Where does this highway go to?
See also: Ghosts in Transit, Scenes