Day 15 and there’s nothing technically wrong with me. I’m always just a little too hot these days and if I turn on my radio in the car or browse my newsfeed, I’m a bothered, too. I can’t cope.
I’m 50 and can no longer differentiate between whether the climate change is within me or is outside — all I know is it’s both too much for me to handle. For readers, the juxtaposition of unrelenting change in one’s body and the unrelenting environmental destruction of the planet are not related.
But I ask you, how do you read about 200 reindeer dying in the Artic, dead gray whales washing up on west coast beaches on the shores, the collapse of bee colonies and 1,000 kids separated from their families seeking asylum at the southern border after a Supreme Court injunction not to do so and see if you can compartmentalize your migraine headaches as just a mysterious wonder of aging.
I grew up on dry, hot movies of futuristic dystopian landscapes that always looked a little — dry. Percy Adlon’s “Bagdad Café,” Wim Wender’s “Until the End of the World,” and George Miller’s “Mad Max.” The future always looked parched, tired, vaguely Australian and German, and in need of a shower. Hot and bothered. It needed a glass of cold clear and non-toxic water. Reading the news makes me feel like none of those movies were fiction. That makes my head hurt and makes me a sweaty mess.
I’ve become one of those long-time Plumas County residents who say things like “back when I first moved here it never got above 85 degrees. Maybe on a rare summer it got to 90 degrees for the day but that’s it.” Yup. That’s me now: Pointing my cane at the thermostat and saying: “Heh. Air-conditioned houses are for wimps. Must be communist. I’m an American in rural America. I can tough it out.” I know it’s anecdotal but I’m pretty sure when I moved here it rarely got above 90 degrees and we never got air conditioning and now I get hot flashes.
This is an essay about trying to mitigate the climate change within and without.
What is the solution to the climate change within?
Anything that used to mildly irritate me now gives me severe headaches. I have stuff to do though and I get tired of staying in dark rooms with cold compresses on my head as if I’m in need of a fainting couch and some smelling salts.
I’ve consulted doctors who smile and just nod in acknowledgement that I’m hitting “the change.” I’m taking copaiba and smear unidentified oils on my temples and the back of my neck. I smear a different one on my abdomen. Minus the Emeraude perfume, I smell like the old ladies I used to know in the 1980s. I have no idea if any of this is working. Friends send thoughts and prayers and light a candle for me — so I’m working on the same prayer regime as victims of domestic terrorist shootings at schools and festivals so we know how well that’s doing.
A colleague of mine at the newspaper offered up the idea that I should cut out coffee, sugar, oils, wheat and salt. Someone else suggested cutting out dairy and meat. I sat and visualized what that would look like for me — walking around town plucking kale and celery out of my teeth and eating whipped air desserts. I mean I get cutting down some of that but good Lord.
And none of that is cooling me down. I’m told that this will last about four years tops and then I’m home free and I can grow my chin hairs out with pride and be a happy newlywed crone. Life goals. Yay me!
My friend Ariel Gore and I were chatting not to long ago — my comrade with the same arm fat wings and zapped motivation. Like me, she was angry that no one conveyed this part of being 50 years old. Like me, the ongoing destruction of the planet resonated with the ongoing destruction of her body. We talked about trying to find the silver lining — or since silver is probably giving us headaches, the kombucha and quinoa lining.
With age comes not caring. I’ve seen more women (and that means SEEN) walking around without bras lately than ever before. I get it. I would wear a cloud of cold mist if I could instead of clothes. With age comes smug laughter when you see a 30-something mom talk about how perfect her mothering is and how perfect her kid is. I cast my spell (may the universe grant you the teenager from hell) and smile as I walk past her.
I do however, still care about the planet. What is the solution to climate change without?
I care that my children, if not my grandchildren, will still have water to drink and air to breathe and that there is food being grown somewhere in the future. I care that young people do not sink into despair from the barrage of hopelessness shown in the daily headlines. I’m grateful that my kids aren’t news junkies like I am so that at least part of every day they can be happy. As a 50-year-old learning that Greenland is melting down and that island nations and that Alaska hit the mid 90s last week makes me feel helpless and hot with no relief.
Sometimes my children have outbursts of despair, too. But they still have a chance and have the energy to help the planet recover from the environmental policies of the United States and now Brazil.
I guess what it comes down to is this: We refer to mother Earth as a mother — as a woman, as a she. Like middle-aged women everywhere, we ignore her plights and pillage her potential. We are the source of her migraines. That plastic straw use is our right and anyway, it’s not as bad as fishnets and it is some other country’s problem not ours. We tell her that it’s all naturally occurring and that she will survive.
Mother Earth has no time for splitting hairs when she has a hot and splitting headache. She can’t suffer fools and now that I’m feeling more and more like her, I can’t either.
There is little comfort for the hot and the bothered.