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.