I hope this greeting finds you well!
I’m writing to you from my mom’s on what’s a rather serene night following a relatively fresh day in L.A.
It’s just past six-thirty, and at the outset of this letter, rush-hour has long come to an end, and the people have long been home.
Outside, the sound of tires tendering the road swooshes by, but only in fits, like a slow breath exhaling. Not far, a neighbor practices the violin.
You and your sister have never been through the realms of my neighborhood, have you? It’s a strange little place called the Virgil Village, and it sits just south of Griffith Park and the Los Feliz region, west of Silverlake, and east of Hollywood.
It’s a mostly residential span of L.A., and hence probably not much to those passing by on their way to the more popular neighborhoods mentioned above, but for me and my family, it’s our setting, where our base has always been, and where I trust it’ll remain even long after we part from it.
Like a lot of urban Los Angeles, it’s a sprawl inhabited by all kinds of people, but in particular it’s home to Chinese, Filipino, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, White, Black, Oaxacan, Armenian, and even some Ukrainian Angelenos. Of course, you wouldn’t sense this just driving by.
At night the Village is eerily quiet –even desolate– and I can only imagine how spooky it’d be for an outsider. Tagging runs rampant over much of the walls, and cigarette cartons and beer bottles litter nearly every block. In effect, while the police aren’t a common sight in the neighborhood, when they are visible, their expressions aren’t of the friendly kind.
At the same time, this is only one side of the Village’s grand story. Despite the eeriness of my neighborhood, the streets are comprised of noble, working people. They are the brothers, sisters, fathers, and children which make this place a community, no matter how much it will often seem to the contrary. Sometimes –most of the time– many of them have to walk through the Village by themselves on their way home at night. In the darkness, the shadows cast by their footsteps will often loom large, and even make them appear like hostile strangers. But a glimmer of their faces through the moonlight will reveal that they are not hostile, but only humble people on their way home. Honorable people.
I love them, every single one of them. Even if I never get to tell them.
They make this place more than just another extension of the sprawl; they make it whole; they make it real.
Throughout our correspondence, along with my family, they will be the ones I’ll keep in mind for our discussions.
But what about you? Who will be your people? Are they in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or somewhere in between?
Thank you for allowing me to share this moment with you, and I look forward to more soon.
With L.A. Love,