Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 33

When my spirit is scattered and restless, as it was this evening, I take a walk through Los Angeles, trusting in the endless road’s ability to host my insatiability.

At moments, it feels like my spirit can devour the entire road. At others, like it needs to simply lay eyes on its slopes and curves, acknowledging their lonesome ranges. There are also moments during my walking when I feel like the paths I take are that of an outlier, well past the standard deviations of distances usually traveled when moving about the city on just two feet.

Then there are moments when none of it matters because I am alive and ready to take on all challenges presented by the terrain. At still other moments it’s the opposite; I need to be sensitive to every noise, brush of wind and slight of concrete facing my direction.

Finally, there arrives a moment during every one of my walks when I’m called back to work by that other movement emanating from the same spirit from which the walking journey began.

Especially as the days begin to warm, I recommend every reader to take advantage of the road in their midst in whatever fashion works best for them. If you need a cap to guard against the roar of the sunlight, or simply to show the solidarity which eludes so many of us workers during the “regular” seasons, Los Cuentos got you covered.


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Next Stop: Los Angeles

I can see myself getting closer and closer to my love, but it is not quite all a road of roses. There are moments when I find myself taking more distance from those who I once thought could understand this love, but now I understand that we just see it on different terms. Such a difference is still a matter of arriving. I am nearing my destination, which means the distance is closing from the object of my journey at the same time that it’s growing from where and with whom I began.

It is a tragic love affair. The affinity I feel for the movement of Los Angeles is endless.

First I love the bus in Los Angeles, but it’s part of a love triangle, because there are days when I love the rail lines even more. They are far from world class services, and they will probably always be doomed to mediocrity, but it doesn’t matter to me. They are the first buses and rail lines I ever rode and for that I am a lifetime subscriber.

On the bus, when seating is available I dash at the opportunity to sit at the best seat; that is, the one where I can see the city from the most points of view. But there are moments when even if I’ve got the best seat, if there’s a Señorita or their toddler who could use it better, I take pride in handing it off to them.

I couldn’t lose even if I wanted to; it happens that I also love standing on the bus as if it were a giant board surfing through L.A.’s crumbling concrete, which also makes for a great view.

On the rail lines the seats are more critical. To some degree it depends on which line I’m on and how far I’m going that determines whether or not the seat is especially important, but even then I love standing on the rail lines, too; my feet synchronize with the swaying of the car and the line altogether. We do not fear the trafficked roads of the city. We are the bullets daring enough to make our own riveting course through the city.

And we see more of the city than the other way around.

But then, the sidewalks are the best. I’m entranced with walking through L.A.’s neglected sidewalks. I bask in standing at their corners, where I can confront the city’s movement more blithely, and I take pride in being the first to set foot on the crosswalks when the lights finally permit.

And while I am not a religious ‘Angeleno,’ when I walk towards or walk past the paletero or the little ladies with the tamales on the sidewalks I privately worship them. We don’t have to say anything to each other, I just know immediately that they came from far away places to bless me with their food and their snacks and the sweetness with which they prepare and provide these things not just to myself but also the rest of the pueblo. I am selfish, however. I’ve got to let them know I appreciate them the most and that I won’t ever stop doing so and that if there was more I could do then, of course, claro que si.

I could never care for Jacob or Matthew or James, but I could care far too quickly for Don Jose and Doña Maria and their mija la Vanessa y el hermanito el Carlitos. They are the reasons Los Angeles is not a concrete jungle; in the jungle the birds have to hunt their prey and be hunted. In Los Angeles the pajaritos simply stand with dignity before their carts and practically give the food away.

What did I do to deserve this?

God bless America for Los Angeles, y que la Santa María bendiga a México y España anterior por El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula. And may every God worshiped by every indigenous people in Los Angeles before any state claimed it bless those people still.

In each period, those who came before me just kept Los Angeles warm for me. I know this in my heart. I do not always like knowing it, and there are days when I reject it. But the truth is there is no magic nor reel nor any image like the one that floats through my eyes when I take my time through Los Angeles.

It reverberates in my veins, and in each new step I take there is somehow more life than in the last.

I don’t know quite how this is supposed to work, or just where it ends. In any case it’s too late to look back now.

We are getting closer, Los Angeles.


Virgil Avenue and Normal Street; Los Angeles, Winter 2015

Back to the Block Again

Even though sometimes it’s one of the toughest things to walk past the gates and out to a neighborhood whose streets I’ve fallen on so many times.

As I put on my sneakers and open the door, I can’t help but question the arrangement of everything at home: that is, if I’m okay with leaving everything as it is, if for whatever reason I don’t get to make it back in time.

When I think about it for longer than a moment, I can’t help but want to hold onto my home and forget about the rest of the world, resolving that staying in could surely be the better choice in a world with no guarantee for my safety out there.

But then I think to myself that I can’t see things this way when everything and everyone is outside, when my mother and brother and all of my friends and loved ones are taking the risks past the grand unknowns that come with living in cities like ours.

It’s just that sometimes being at home is so familiar. Sometimes being at home alone is even more familiar than being in the company of friends or family.

But maybe it’s just the vastness of a self broken up into a million scattered seconds, at one moment telling me to get out there, then telling me to just stick to what I know since things are probably safer that way.

Somewhere through it all, the former gets a step ahead of the latter, and before I know what’s happening:

I find myself outside again, walking through the neighborhood I’ve known and not known for so long.

As I look out towards the familiar streets, I remark at how long it’s been, even if it was only just the other day since I crossed one intersection or another. But every time I see the streets again, they’re filled with new life; with new people, new possibilities, new dreams.

Unable to control the emotions this uproots in me, I can’t help but dream with the avenues and boulevards: of capturing all their life and loss and gorgeousness and making them shine bright enough to give them a place among the stars in a city which can always use more of them.

I see, then, how I do have to keep walking through the neighborhood. Even if I am to fall through its streets again, I can get back up knowing the streets and I share a common gravity, that we were made for each other, and that we rise and fall to complete one another. Home is not just what is within, then, it’s not even just what’s familiar; instead, it’s what is all around, and I value each of my surroundings. It is all home.