I’ve been watching the news on current events around the world, including the massive wildfires in California that so far have killed at least thirty people and displaced hundreds of thousands. I know a number of people in the area, and even though they are not in the direct path of the fires they’ve been on my mind for the past several days. We’re still due to arrive in San Jose in just a few days for an anthropology conference, but it seems surreal to travel so far to talk about anthropology while there are many people suffering not too far away. From what I understand the smoke has traveled far and wide across the state. In fact, we just got an email from the American Anthropological Association reaffirming that the conference will proceed as planned, but also warning us that the air quality may not be suitable for older adults, young children, and people with health problems. Maybe that’s what we’re supposed to do—try to live life as normally as possible in times of stress. I’m not sure that it feels totally right, but I also donated to help some of the people affected (some suggestions here ).
Anyway, I’m still flying in with my teenage son, and he’s still excited. It’s our first trip with the just the two of us, and he’s never been to the west coast. He’s not sure yet if he wants to come to my session to hear the speakers. I can’t say that I blame him for being hesitant, but I’ll nudge him to come just to see what a conference entails. If he does come, the session I’m in is still scheduled for Friday, Nov 16 from 10:15 AM – noon in the Convention Center, room 230C on the Concourse level. Maybe I’ll see a few old friends and acquaintances. Life is short, and years go by without seeing people, decades even. We pass this way but once, and in the end all we have is the sum of our deeds and connections.