On a September Saturday in 2015 I was telling a stranger that I was from Cobb, California just as the Valley Fire set the surrounding forest on fire. That odd timing has stuck with me for the past six years. I could see the smoke from Sacramento by the next day.
Cobb was my hometown. I spent nearly half of my childhood among three hundred people, zero stoplights, two pizza parlors, and countless towering evergreens. It was wild, peaceful, dirty, simple, and had the kind of stars that you haven't even seen in your dreams. My father and I would drive midway through a creek, park the pickup, and dangle our feet into the water on a hot summer’s day. We roasted marshmallows in the wood stove when winter storms knocked out the power (again). My childhood best friend and I could spend all day in a tree with a stack of "Calvin and Hobbes" books. Her home burned to its foundations, along with the entire community of Anderson Springs.
Simon Biles’ withdrawal from Olympic events has the world talking. While critics argue that only physical conditions are legitimate reasons to withdraw, many others applaud her bravery and self-awareness. I personally see IHAN’s mission in her choices: she committed to her needs and boundaries over overwhelming outside pressure. These choices are never easy, especially with pressures as large as wildfires or pandemics – or global audiences – looming over us.