The Weather: San Francisco

Nothing is literally more interesting than the weather. How could it be otherwise? It thoroughly defines our immediate environment. To dismiss the weather as unimportant is to suggest that we live independently of our environs, that we are actors on a stage and the stage does not inflect us. Ah, but the weather inundates our experience, shapes it, moods it, defines it in so many ways.

People claim to have seasonal affective disorder. Of course they do. Only a) it’s not a disorder; and b) we all have it.

The weather is a mood and not simply some numbers — temperature, humidity, wind — that tell us what to wear. Winds don’t just blow warm and cold, wet and dry. They also blow anxious, calm, frenzy. Weather is the swirl of affect.

And San Francisco is deep in the swirl. This is a strange city with an incredibly intimate relationship not just to the sky but to the atmosphere in general. Montana, Kansas, Texas: they have Big Sky. San Francisco doesn’t have big sky: it has Close Sky, sky that comes down to us, clouds that literally kiss us. We call it fog.

Ocean, bay, desert land, sky, wind: here they interact in endlessly shifting configurations that relentlessly modulate our days. We may not experience extremes of hot and cold but within our tightly stipulated range, we experience great tumult, enormous variation. And with this, an endlessly shifting affective resonance.

A few weeks ago, I’m driving through the city and experienced something that happens with some frequency in San Francisco: everything was nutty. Cars were doing strange things — stopping for no reason, drifting, turning suddenly. Pedestrians, too, were popping up at unexpected places in unexpected ways. I couldn’t go one block with some wacky shit happening.

The next morning, I learned that the earthquake in Japan had happened and that the tsunami had hit the California coast. Of course, I said to myself, that’s why everything was so wacky yesterday.

And just in case I didn’t believe it, the next day found my boy and me at the park where we sat — randomly, whatever that means — to watch some amateur baseball game. We took seats next to one teams’ bench — we where the only people in the stands — and I looked at a player’s jersey: Tsunami, it read, in big bold letters.

The world is not a stage. It is an actor. And a pervasive, demanding one at that. TC mark

image – Mike Behnken

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