You Are Already Where You Want to Be: Summer Chronicles 2020 #3

by on July 6, 2020 · 2 comments

in San Diego, Under the Perfect Sun

By Jim Miller

You already are where you want to be.  Forget the story in your head and the world of screens.  Wake up at dawn and hit the street early before the masses crowd the sidewalks and go.  Anywhere, everywhere, just walk.  This is the ritual of the moment.

In my neighborhood, it means learning the landscape of yards — lush green garden boxes, forests of sunflowers, clusters of cacti on the edge of a canyon.  Relearn how to look and listen, see the things you never see.

What is most important is what happens to be there at the dead end of the unpaved alley.  The old tires stacked next to an abandoned car where an orange cat has discovered his throne.  In the midst of an incomprehensible canvas of black spray-painted tags on a cinderblock wall someone has scrawled “Dream Now” in bright silver.

You can hear the flock of green parrots before they appear in the sky above you, their rowdy cacophony of squawks reaching a crescendo as they descend on the top of a big palm tree.  The sky is still flat grey and misty with looming clouds, but the birdsong colors the morning, nonetheless.  In the distance, the horn of a semi blares on the 94.  Somehow, it all goes together despite the discordance.

Keep walking and notice the years on the sidewalk, 1912, 1915.  There are signs painted by children thanking essential workers in the windows of an Art Deco apartment building, “Black Lives Matter” drawn on a lamp post.  Tucked away at the end of a street you’ve never tread before is a little chapel overlooking the freeway.  A bright yellow house with a yard full of anarchic wildflowers sits next to an ugly apartment complex devoid of all life.  On the corner, someone has left a pair of old red sneakers neatly on the curb.

Pull up your mask and walk up a hill past a row of little Craftsman bungalows yet to be gentrified.  Something about the weathered wood, chipped paint, and porches strewn with battered chairs and abandoned toys feels like a Robert Frank photo.  An intimate piece of history stuck in amber.

Moving off the side street, you hit a main thoroughfare, stroll by a bus stop, and wave at a young woman standing by the bench in a fast food restaurant uniform and an old man sullenly sitting in his security guard outfit.  A block down the street, the bus roars by, largely empty, as you cross behind it, find another side street, note the way this particular stretch of houses are from different eras, one a perfectly maintained Spanish style abode, another a rustic cabin, one more a Bauhaus box.

And the glances in windows at morning coffee in a kitchen, someone yawning on their couch, a dog pressing his nose to the glass.  Kids have chalked the sidewalk with pictures in front of one place and another yard is home to a goose.  Then at the end of the street there is a trail down into a canyon.  There are a few surviving yellow flowers from the spring lining the dirt path, sage, acacia, buckwheat, and prickly pear cactus.

Never mind what time it is or where you think you are. Get lost.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Blaine July 6, 2020 at 5:40 pm

Nice view of what to do


Frances O'Neill Zimmerman July 6, 2020 at 6:29 pm

Really really nice. Not one word about you-know-what.
Thank you.


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