Boyfriend and I visited Catalina over New Year's. All during our time there, the island – known for its bison, golf carts, flying fish, its Deco and decorated Casino – rested under a blanket of fog. Except for the day that we left, when the sun perversely warmed the sky into a Baroque twist of cloud and blue, the air moved like cold smoke, choking and freezing.
Our boat left Long Beach in mid-morning, progressing carefully into a blank wall of fog. It was odd, looking ahead and seeing nothing but a pale mystery – with all details erased. For all we knew, the world could have been flattened into a geometric plane, and we were about to motor over its edge into a soft, white void.
For days I felt its cold, vaporous fingers twisting through my hair and pressing down on my eyes like pennies.
Once we drove to the other side of the island, plunging into the morning's foggy embrace. When our path ran low, trees appeared and disappeared in the atmosphere's cold sweat, like pieces in a ghostly chess game – checking and check-mating at will. But when the road broke free and climbed above the misty fabric we were able to look down upon a fogbank that stretched below us, solid and yielding, like a cloudy continent.
The fog was endless and white, touched with gold and turquoise by a hidden though still laboring sun. It rose like the breath of whales from the ocean, it dropped like the veils hiding the stars and extended like a gentle, feathery lake.
Throughout our stay I saw the dusky tendrils curl in the maritime breeze. They flowed like a rhythmic stream. They whispered to me, silent stories of their birthplaces: the sweet earth, the mountains jade-colored and carved like an opium pipe…and the generous ocean that strung droplets of water into a necklace of melting pearls before offering it to the sky.