The brief and pungent cackle of humanity spews out in fireworks and sirens and idling cars and the gaggle of passengers greeting drivers, their bottles clank and doors slam shut.

All around, in a passive and steady cadence, the wind wails through the trees and their palms, the rain patters down upon the streets and the cars and the people to the beat of inevitability.

Some might call it a celebration, but as the noise of the machines fade and voices cry out in abrupt abstractions, it all sounds like protest to me—a fear that the wind continues to carry it all away; a reminder that we can mark the passage of time all we like, but none will survive it.

For now, my cats remain curious and comfortable. They know nothing of the New Year, but I give them a handful of treats nonetheless. The rain brings a certain fresh air that reminds me of Portland—the past sneaks up on us all in subtle ways. But I am no longer there, and it is no longer then.

I am in Los Angeles, and it is 2023. Hello, again.