That card, that fucking card, was still on the counter. The light above the oven cast grim shadows on the counter, which was littered with receipts and invitations, a hundred restaurants in New York that had prepared food for her or that desperately wished to. The card lay by itself, made visible by its color, a wash of purple and pink balloons, glitter strewn about the edges. She’d scribbled “Eliza” on it and began a halfhearted message, “so proud to be your”, but couldn’t move past that next word. The word. That was three weeks ago. It sat just as she left it, hurrying out the door for dinner in SoHo followed by a date at the opera. Not that kind of date. Just the kind that you track in your planner. If she had a planner. She moved heavily toward the fridge to hunt for leftovers, dragging her hand over the counter. The card slid noiselessly off the edge, landing with a slap in the trash can below.
In the golden days of social networks—Friendster, Myspace, the early days of Facebook—notifications as we now know them were in their infancy. Mobile push notifications and realtime alerts were mere figments in the imaginations of innovative engineers and social scientists. Exchanges on these networks were largely one way, and leaving a message on somebody’s Myspace or Facebook “wall” required you to all but follow up yourself if you expected a reply.
Who drove those cars? Who built that house? Who lived in it? Did the owners drive those cars? When did they move from Missouri to Montana? Or was it Montana to Missouri? Who took the photo? Is the photographer alive? Is the house in Missouri? Is it in Montana? When was the photo taken?
One, two, three; the transformers blew in succession down the road. For a moment we watched fireworks, washed blue and white across the hillside. The lights flickered then died. The stars of Hollywood Hills dim for the night.
When you look out over Los Angeles from the Hollywood Hills, the sun long since sunk over the western horizon, the pin-pricks of light stretch on until infinity. Greens and reds in orderly rows, with yellows and whites and blues scattered on top, a glittering layer of space dust rained down from above. It all pulses in the rising currents of air, warmth emanating from each body, in every direction, for as far as our eyes can see. The sky is slate gray; we’ve blocked out the heavens.