Crossing the Streets in East Hollywood

My eyes begin to waver, and my heart seems to nearly stop in its tracks. In a city rushing like this one, it’s even a dangerous act, to stand still in the middle of traffic. If not for rushing engines, a flaming swath of footsteps behind my body threaten to overtake me. Yet in the midst of the crowd, there lies another appointment for me to meet, something beyond what’s written in my calendar.

As I filter through the streets, something divine is at work. On the one hand, I’m just like any of the tiniest specimens that make up the universe, as ephemeral as any other. At the same time, I reflect new worlds within the universe, filled with new possibilities.

Suddenly, going through the day isn’t just about arriving somewhere on time. It’s about being alive in a world that doesn’t always exactly feel like it’s living.

The strangers around me are suddenly not so strange; they’re the closest thing to family outside of my actual family. In the midst of an earthquake or some other catastrophe, they’d be the closest people to push past the apocalypse with.

But before the great inevitable catastrophe–of ruined bones and sunken skin–where would we draw the line between saving others, and saving ourselves?

For myself, feeling for others is as natural as breathing, or as natural as opening my eyes in the morning. Not because it’s as if we’re all made of the same flesh and bone, but because we are all made of the same flesh and bone.

In my heart, I want all of us to live triumphantly, indelibly, indefinitely.

But the truth is that regardless of who might be saved or not: everything has to end. And before then, everything has to fall apart.

This is where it becomes strange. On most days, my little part of Los Angeles feels like the exact opposite of just a moment in time and space. It’s as if the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory have always been there, staring at the stars like they do tonight.

Yet these places have only been a part of my world as long as I’ve known it.

Eventually, through the same process that placed our paths at this certain intersection of time and space, at another intersection, we’ve got to go our separate ways from one another.

Each of us suddenly has to disappear, as if to go back to the untraceable time and space from where we came. Just like all matter in the universe.

I should know this, though. If there’s one thing anyone who lives in L.A. should know, it’s that even a city of stars can’t last forever. All stars are made to shine, and then to burn out and transform.

The death of a star may then seem tragic. But it’s also more than that.

The death of a star is the birth of new worlds; if it wasn’t for the stars that erupted across the skies before ours, we couldn’t be here now, in between clouds, meteors, and the countless other matter making up the galaxy surrounding the little intersection at which I’m standing.

Every street and boulevard, then, every palm tree, all the squirrels burrowing through, and the city-goers who feed them, all of us, whether we’re driving at 95 miles an hour over the freeway, or waiting hours for the bus late into the evening, whether we’re on our way to or with our loved ones, or to rest our bodies after another long day at work — no matter what or where we are — we all have to go, and to keep going.

No matter how much we’d like to resist the movement, the moment has to pass. I’ve got to realize that I’m standing in the middle of traffic, and that no matter how beautiful it might appear, I can’t afford to get lost in its brilliance indefinitely. Not today.

But with this note, I can crystallize the moment for someone other than myself; I can take the radiance I see all around me, and chuck it out into the universe like a satellite in search of other intelligence.

I can also now let the moment pass, to get to that scheduled appointment. I finally submit to the flow, becoming one with the swath of footsteps.

Let’s go Los Angeles.

J.T.

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J.T.

Born and raised in the Los. Los Cuentos. J.T.

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