Los Angeles, city of the stars. Smog surrounding like a halo paints the sky in mesmerizing, high-hazy purples and blues and pinks. From the balcony of the luxe hotel, I watch countless cars and hear a steady whirr, a buzzing, white noise; and brake lights match the setting sun’s technicolor glow.
Surreal, a screenplay, or a dream, blurry like the view, I stare at the sun until it hurts and imagine the spite of the storm hitting home. From floor 16, I see too much. But life goes on, and cars hum on, and I wonder how long it can last.
Below me stands Fox Studios, monstrous parking lots and thousands of cars and trailers and people, important, busy people. Further is the sprawl, more cars, concrete, trucks, buildings, streets, highways, neon, lights. And the smog, a milky grey-white veil that makes it all look like a dream.
Strange, almost unreal, the sun shimmers brightly in LA, illuminating tanned skin and tight bodies, cameras and real-life entourages. Somehow, it is stunning, this expansive view, the ocean in the distance, barely visible on the clearest days, all of these pretty people facing the traffic and the dirt and the noise.
I visit for a wedding; otherwise I would not be in such a swanky locale. The Intercontinental Century City has style, more style, it seems, than the entirety of my current hometown. Here, it’s all about cool. Movie stars and models strut the streets and the halls and most are beautiful, more beautiful in flesh than on the screen.
This weekend is about love in the city of angels. Better not think too much, then, about the East, the disaster that belongs with the stars on the screen.
Wedding guests watch the storm. We celebrate and the storm hits. My coast waits with bated breath as we watch updates on smartphones and computers; the technology that we have grown to need provides the illusion that we are involved.
Powerless and stranded on the other side, we anticipate, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, hearing stories of falling pressure and a full moon. We try to accept helplessness, pause, breathe, block out the noise.
In LA, life goes on. We hear the news, wind gusts to 60, 70, 80 miles per hour. Storms get stronger every year, photos surface of flooding, destruction, and death. Worry and guilt rush in. Life goes on.
I should be home in the eye of the storm.
Surrounded by love, wealth, stars, family, friends, I wait. On floor 16 in the posh hotel I toss and turn on a white cotton candy bed.
Talk of the tempest floods in; technology chatters with devastation. Homes, lives, landmarks lost. Stolen, swept away by the sea. The electric hum penetrates my ears and refuses to recede. A dark thought rests over my mind, a thick fog; when will we learn?
I watch the sun set, stunning, amber, rouge-pink, Chanel burgundy, peach-orange-red, beauty and noise, chaos seems to pause. From the balcony on floor 16 I see too much and wonder what tomorrow will bring; the sun disappears, but I still stare and long for its warmth.
The sky darkens, magnetic deep-sea blue, indigo, and black; the air cools, night falls, and still, through the haze, we buzz on and on.
Kate Krems is a yoga teacher and writer originally from the Boston area, currently based in Alexandria, Virginia. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2008 and is pursuing her MA in Writing at Johns Hopkins University. She adores California, despises storms, and believes in the power of writing to make people think.