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76 Bus to Union Station; Los Angeles, California

I can still remember riding Metro’s 780 bus –from Los Feliz and Vermont–all the way to Pasadena City College–with my notebooks in hand, as I mused about the world I viewed through the windows. Still a teenager at the time, in true L.A. fashion I’d always take the seat all the way in the back-corner, just right next to the windows where I could see nearly everything and everyone in front of me.

I started college in the city of Pasadena in the Fall of 2008, or the same year that Barack Obama would be elected to the office of the President of the United States.

It was a radically different time for me, and all I could wonder about through the days on the bus was just how much of the rest of the world was changing too. Somehow I felt right at the center of this change, or at least near the center of something else monumental, and I valued that feeling. It’s the reason why I wrote.

I never felt excluded, nor unheard, so long as I had the page to hear my voice and the pen to lift my words onto that page. I also didn’t mind very much being rather alone in this, either.

It didn’t strike me very much, if at all, for example, that I’d find myself as the only person on the bus scribbling away at a notebook. Just as I didn’t find it odd to spend whole evenings on the third floor of Pasadena’s Shatford Library even if it meant I’d get to the bus stop late.

It all came to me very naturally as I made my way between what were two very different cities to me at the time.

In the evenings on the bus the stillness of nights lit up only by the stars and streetlights above made for dazzling visions to take into my dreams.

In the daytime on the bus, the bands of pigeons making their way through the clouds as people crisscrossed through the crosswalks underneath made it clear that we were all in it together, separated only by whims of space.

Construction in the city was something we’d all have to deal with on our respective commutes as well. One way or another, something was always being built.

And I always cared about these particulars of Los Angeles, seated quietly inside its buses, absorbing its landscape through the boulevards, one street after the next on the way back to or from ‘the pueblo’, long before it was the pueblo.

I’ve shared the days and nights with Los Angeles on the bus in sequences like these and others for nearly ten years now, and still do. But I wonder just how many people my eyes have actually seen through all of the rides I’ve taken, and just where they all might be now. I imagine most of them are still in Los Angeles like myself, as a result of the blink of an eye that time tends to be for most of us, but that might also be just wishful thinking.

As interestingly, though as a seventeen or eighteen year old I didn’t think that to care about L.A and the state of the world would ultimately mean it’s where my mind would be dedicated going forward, now it appears to me that that’s exactly where I am.

I’ve seen more than just Los Angeles and Pasadena, however, in the ten years since I first boarded Metro’s 780 and 180 buses to and fro between the two.

Since 2008, I’ve also been to Seattle, to Washington D.C., to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and New York, as well to Miami and also Chicago.

Through the Golden State, I’ve been to Sacramento and San Francisco more times than I can count, and been to and lived in the wonderful city of Davis, and to Tahoe, Santa Cruz, Salinas, Watsonville, Oakland, Berkeley, Half-moon Bay, and most recently Pleasanton, Chico, and San Jose.

San Salvador, El Salvador
City Center; San Salvador, El Salvador

Abroad, since 2008 I’ve been to Mexico three times, and through those travels have seen various other cities and states on the American continent; from Tijuana to Guadalajara, to Mexico City, to the city of Puebla in the state of Puebla, to Zacapoaxtla, to the City of Oaxaca, San Pedro Cajonos, the city of Ayutla, and more.

I’ve also been to El Salvador, to the heart in San Salvador, and to Soyapango, Santa Tecla, San Jose Guayabal, and more.

And I’ve been to Guatemala. To the City of Guatemala, as well as to Tikal, and the adjacent city of Flores in Peten.

Finally, in 2017 I made it to Japan. To the marvelous city of Tokyo and its various mini-cities or Japanese pueblos; through Shibuya, Ginza, and Harajuku, as well to the historic Kyoto; to the wonderful city of Osaka, and even to the great city of Hiroshima as well.

I’ve met many wonderful people through each of these trips, and am still in contact with many of them. Together, they form what Los Angeles and the world is to me today.

And if on the 780 bus ten years ago someone had told me that I’d get to see all of these places and more, I can only imagine how curious I’d find it all. Now, I’m only more curious about how the next ten years through The City and the world will unfold.

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Atomic Dome; Hiroshima, Japan (2017)

One thing is certain to me, however. The seats of L.A’s Metro buses–whether on the back-corner or elsewhere–are congenial places to write one’s thoughts out, to claim one’s dreams, and to imagine all the other places we can see and be a part of. Just as well, the city of Los Angeles is quite the city to write in. Together, these are the ‘Goldilocks conditions’ that have transported me across the world, and which still do.

So let’s keep writing, Los Angeles.

J.T.

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