As I idled at a red light, MacArthur Park and Alvarado, a spry, elderly woman entered the crosswalk, head down, waving her arms. She wore a crossing guard’s vest, jeans, running shoes. After she passed my car (of course she had my full attention), I saw she had taped a little saying in easy-to-read block letters to the back of the vest:
PLEASE DONT GO
TO HELL BELIEVE
I couldn’t take my eyes off the word please, surprised she had included it. The light turned green, but she hadn’t finished her arms-waving crossing. We waited. No honking. Just. Waited. It was 5p.m.-ish. Pretty sure we were all, each clogged lane of us, weary.
Echo Park: deep in the throes of gentrification, but still a bit creepy. Trash in the gutters. Stray, emaciated dogs (how, why, how, why). Iron-barred windows. Ugly, offensive graffiti, but also lush, eclectic wall murals. On a fairly sad corner, a man had a hibachi going. He cooked meat, right there, and people were buying it. A few blocks deeper into EP, I parked at Chango and waited in line for coffee like I used to when I lived up the street. The waiters were each their own unique version of the Illustrated Man, only not creepy. They joked, or tried to, with customers, shouted out orders just to shout as they were the ones making everything, constantly smiled. The young man in front of me ordered two espressos with bulls shots. Instantly I saw two black bulls in a Spanish ring being shot by matadors holding rifles dripping with roses. I am old, I thought as the young man turned—I choked on a gasp—he was so pale, obviously coming down from some big thing. I am really old.
I moved my office from my bed to the living room couch so as to be right under the open windows and feeling the cool morning before we rocket up to 90 something again. House finches bicker in my yard’s trees. The dog snores, his nails tapping the Pergo as he twitches from dreams. Through the large windows looking out on the back yard, I am startled by how happy the rose bushes are in this heat, all deep green and blooming. Hard to believe the A/C will be on by noon. In October. As it has been since, it seems like, last March. Kids on bikes pass my house. I’ll f***ing kick your f***ing a** f***ing a**wipe-o-f***ing-holic! one yells, followed by scream-laughs fading. I sip my coffee.
It’s really time to move to the sea.
I like the office image – kinda makes me want to start up the ol’ hibachi and gorge myself on meat and bull shots. We could be old ladies together and make a business out of it… but I LOVE the quinceanera photo. (Drat not being able to find the squiggly N symbol.)
Beth, having lived in Echo Park for almost 2 years, I can tell you there are far, far worse places to grow old. It’s quite a melting pot. I know there’s a pun in there somewhere. Yes, beautiful mural!
I mean, I don’t live there now—now I’m a Valley Girl. Mom. Type. But not A-typical. Oh, gag me with a spoon.
Thanks for the nice little trip around town. I enjoyed all of it. I haven’t been to a coffee shop for a few years since I no longer work down town, what are bulls shots? It sounds like something I would like to keep far away from my coffee. 🙂
Well, I’m ancient, but I believe the young man was referring to Red Bull shots,and no! Can’t go anywhere near those. They’d make me explode out of my skin, I’m sure.