This year: Thank you, Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles; Spring 2018
Downtown Los Angeles; Spring 2018

In the flash of time that’s been this past year, I’ve been fortunate enough to take part in a handful of experiences that I couldn’t have anticipated at the beginning of 2018.

As early as April, for National Poetry month I got to team up with the Friends of Cahuenga for Cahuenga Library’s first-ever Open Mic Saturday.

Then, over the summer, I made the trek out to the states of El Salvador and Guatemala for the first time. After that, fluttering with a burst of energy from these two trips, I also managed to see Oaxaca, Mexico one more time, too.

On recovering from all the jet-lag, I beamed with inspiration from the various people and places I was able to meet through these adventures, and decided that good ole Los Angeles needed something special to show for the summer as well.

Enter the first-ever Back to School Party at El Gran Burrito this past August.

“BTS” in “East Hollywood” was a very special day for the families which J.T.L.A. has been dedicated to over the past four years, and after consulting with the team, the consensus is clear: next year, we’re doing it again. One hundred percent.

Now, as the year winds down to the holiday season, I find myself in yet another privileged position as I get to oversee another special project with a batch of L.A.’s middle school students.

Over the past few weeks of getting to know the class, their stories have motivated me with a lightning force, and so I’ve thus decided to take a moment to recognize them as the most critical actors in the journey that is JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller.

Connecting with a young person who may recognize ‘J.T.’ somewhere farther “down the line” in ten or fifteen years is a gift. We are fellow citizens, after all, and the better we can learn to co-exist now, the better we can co-exist tomorrow. In the same regard, I know that supporting each other in the present moment makes it all the more likely we can support each other in the future.

Which future? The one for the next Los Angeles, that is.

It’s for this reason that I walk into the latest L.A. school I get to be a part of with all of my heart and mind brimming for the students. Even if our meetings together eventually simply fleet into memory banks since “at the end” of our project we’ve got to part ways, as the world does, there’s still truly no such thing as disconnecting.

There’s only putting a rain-check on our reunion, because like the very ideas nestled in between the textbook and the classrooms that belong to all of those who claim them, J.T. will remain at these schools too.

“Your mom always wanted to be a teacher.”

When my tio said this to me one recent afternoon, I averted my gaze towards his figure, as if to determine whether the words could ring true or not. But the words just hung there, decorating the walls. Of course they were true. I don’t know how I could have missed it in twenty-seven years as my mother’s son, but now I don’t have to look back; I can look forward.

The future is ours, Los Angeles. It’s whirling in the present moment now, because I’ve seen it affirmed that everything from this point forward is not just an opportunity for me, but also for Mama and all of our pueblo. From the pueblos of El Salvador, then, on through Oaxaca, and from the neighborhoods of Los Angeles all the way out to Japan alongside J.T.L.A:

Thank you for all of 2018, Los Angeles.

“You can’t eat cars.
[But] you can eat chocolate cars…

Yes. Write that down!”

J.T.

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