Friday, July 18, 2003

I wasn't planning on writing about this but I can't seem to focus. On Wednesday, driving home on Wilshire Boulevard after picking up my 5 year old at the park, we saw the helicopters hovering above the Santa Monica Promenade and a convoy of ambulances weaving their way down Wilshire. I knew something terrible had happened at the Farmer's Market; my first thought was that it was a bomb. Since we live literally two blocks away, it was surreal when we got home with the ambulances coming down our alley and the helicopters flying above our building. I turned on the TV just a bit to find out what was going on, then put on Mary Poppins for her while I fielded calls all afternoon from friends and family.

Santa Monica can feel like a small community, especially so at the Farmer's Market where I run into many acquaintances there. I was there earlier that day buying nectarines from my favorite stone fruit farm, Honey Crisp, their stand right at the western edge of Arizona Avenue. I recall seeing the fellow, I hate calling him the homeless guy, who stood at the traffic barricade set up at Arizona. I'm wondering if he was one of the first fatalities. A block away at the intersection of 2nd and Arizona, canopies and plastic chairs are set up, usually occupied by seniors resting in the shade. The Kucinich table was there last week though I don't know about this week. I don't know many vendors by name but I know them by sight and location. I worried about Helen, a grandmotherly vendor who once kindly shared her fool-proof tsukemono (pickle) recipe with me. She's usually there on Wednesday, on Arizona Avenue, selling onions and zucchini.

Although I wasn't there at the time of the accident, I'm left with a strange intangible sense of loss. While some of that loss has to do with the illusion of safety I had, I also grieve for the individuals who passed away, as well as for all those injured. I don't know any personally but I feel vulnerable in that it could have easily been me or a friend or family. I feel bad for the driver;I can't imagine what it would be like for him. I worry about the city of Santa Monica. Since the budget situation has been awful, I don't even want to think about lawsuits.

Today, a memorial has appeared by the cast iron dolphin statue at the corner of Third and Arizona. Wild Oats Market, a block away, is taking up a collection for the victims, providing matching funds from customer donations. Personally, I know the prescription lies in mourning the losses as well as counting my blessings and focusing on gratitude. However, they seem to be very abstract theoretical constructs right now. But I think it's very late; I need to get to bed.