12 August 2013

Again: the air

Though there is a movement afoot to close the central city coal burning plants it hasn't happened yet to our neighborhood smoke-stack seen here from my rented bedroom window.   We've been asking random locals and it seems that this little plant is indeed burning coal to run the air conditioners we all use in this crazy hot and humid weather.  It's been in the high 30s (or 90s F) and about that in humidity as well.  Walking outside feels a bit like walking into the steam room at the gym.

There were many reports about the bad air setting records earlier this year.  I was trying to find stats on how many days were hazardous but I am not sure who is compiling that data or how to get my hands on it.  In any event, the air is bad and people are leaving BJ because of it.  Us, too.  

Though LiLi got into an excellent and close-by private international school, though we found a rockin' light-filled apartment in a complex we've coveted, though we're in a 'hood where we already know people including LiLi’s BJ bestie, I feel we simply cannot stay.  

Last week, while LiLi was in camp and I scouted apartments with friends, we had some blue-sky days.  My friends said if the sky stayed blue that week they figured I'd sign on to BJ for another year or two.  But the sky didn't stay blue and yesterday we had thick and gritty air that left us all feeling sick by the end of the day.  We hunkered down indoors with the air filter running at its highest setting.  It seems insane to sign on to living here when our other option has AQIs of around 35. 

I love BJ and the excitement of a city this large.  I love the center of the universe feeling.  That things change on a dime.  That we have a global community (our friends are from:  BJ; other parts of China; Ghana; Iran; England; France; America; Australia).  That traveling to other Asian countries is easy and inexpensive from here.  I love my plan to host regular foodie pot-lucks.  When we lived here in 2012 the food I missed most was Mexican so I envision hosting dinners where someone would bring salsa, someone else guac, someone else quesadillas, etc, and another time doing Malaysian, or Indian or other foods. 

But I can do that in San Francisco and I’m not sure why I don’t think of it there.  Maybe because life there already has so many layers to it.  So many obligations and so much pressure.  Even though daily life is hard in China, there’s a way in which it is not so complicated.  It feels cleaner.  It feels clearer, even through the smog.