While I was in San Francisco, I saw a casting of The Thinker by Rodin. It took many long moments to understand that that was what I was looking at. I was in awe, and that feeling followed me to every state I visited. I did all the sites, from Alcatraz to Madam Tussauds. Then I flew home to one of the most beautiful cities in the world with the awe-inspiring sites I’d never visited. I reserve my awe for the unknown, the mysterious, the scarce.

D was none of those things. We were together for five years, so he was infernally familiar to me. I treated him like my home city, rarely looking at him long enough to feel awe. These days, I know he was generous. He was honourable. He was exquisite, but when we were together, he dragged me to all those godawful family functions, made the bed badly, and became passive aggressive when he couldn’t say no.


Welcome to the human condition. We see the unknown as spectacular and the known, unremarkable.

You could say I lost D after our 23rd argument about his problems with non-confrontation, but the truth is I lost sight of my awe. I was too self-involved to see that his flaws were a thousand times better than mine; too ignorant to notice he was as beautiful then as he was the day we met.

After D, I met S. For a while, he thought I was made of magic, but then he found out that I didn’t like spending hours at the beach; that I was too impatient and my friends too academic. If he had to sit through one more coffee shop conversation about books he’d never read, he’d lose his mind, and so he lost me.

A year ago, my home almost became the first major city to run out of water. The land dried up. The flowers died. The pathways eroded. Water became scarcer than wine, and so we learned to value all those things we couldn’t have anymore—swimming pools, long bubble baths, endless thoughtless loads of laundry.

The drought has ended, and the flowers are everywhere. Last week, I went to the estuary to take a photograph of the daisies close up, but when I got there, all the infinite yellow petals looked unimpressive. The grass that was eroded soil only a year ago hadn’t been mowed for months, and there were weeds everywhere.

I’m tired of the rain we were hoping for 10 months ago. If I have to sit through one more storm, I’ll lose my mind.

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