slowly surely + xyz : a journey of (re)discovery

I AM. Welcomed

By InspiredJourney

 

The night I set off, was one of the rainiest days in recent history for San Francisco. In all actuality, these torrential rains had, thankfully, come to what seemed like the whole of California. They were hell-bent on showing their seriousness, taking all the umbrella prisoners that dared being in violation of doing their job effectively.

Having been in a statewide drought for years, we needed and ‘warmly welcomed’ this cold rain. But … but … I couldn’t help but note the timing of this downpour happening once I committed to voyage.

Yes, often looking for the worst in a given situation, we are heavily geared (through regular programming) to see occurrences as some standard omen and why we shouldn’t have done or do X.

Though there was a tiny amount of doubt circling like vultures waiting to scavenge on my dying dreams. It was momentary, because I was (am) competing for my life, the vultures were forced to look elsewhere or starve.

This was/is a matter of life, life or death living.

For if I allowed any doubt to rip through my sails, derail my train, I would lose more than the four dollars I had invested to this point. You know, I would have forever lost me to some abyss having swallowed me whole.

Voilà, I prevailed in that match against doubt.

With my mGear, I made my way to a Muni stop.

Attempting to be proactive, I walked a couple stops ahead of mine, rather than waiting. The estimated arrival time showing 40 minutes! I gave myself a great buffer time wise, and this wait time was no bueno.

Looking around for for viable alternatives near, the only option was to walk some blocks to Market Street, picking up any bus or train going in the general direction I needed.

Hopping on, off and transferring once, I arrived to my destination in great time.

Seated.

Buckled in a top deck, second row seat gave me direct access to the stairs for the inevitable bathroom run on this pending eight-hour trip.

Half hour in, I slept on this rollercoasting ride.

I am not a fan of rollercoasters and other activities that give that weightlessness feel. Hence the analogy. But, I was on a mission and survived the bouncy shocks that nearly expelled the contents of my stomach. The shocks, coupled with sitting high was a bit much. That said, and all things considered, it was a relatively comfortable eight hours.

On the drive down, the sky, clear.

Pleased, I felt the all clear and believed I’d gotten from under the rain clouds. But nah, it wasn’t so.

There was very little rain on the drive down, until the precise moment of arrival at DTLAs Union Station (insert low pitch grumbling here).

The sky sobbed, heavily.

Clumsily off the bus, I struggled with keeping my umbrella alive and my freshly styled natural hair in tact, as I sloshed around to find a restroom.

The part no one is waiting for: Act 1, Scene 4, 5, 6.

Go on. Guess the first person I meet and inquire with for directions to the closets ladies room.

The Hint: I reside in San Francisco, a place where some have lovingly proclaimed it as a place to keep weird, and other city governments ship (via one-way bus ticket, sometimes without permission and unbeknownst to) mentally unstable passengers . I’ll wait.

I am sure you knew it’s none other than one of ‘my homeless and seriously living in the land of alternative facts friends’, I thought I’d left behind in San Fran.

You see, we all had seen and engaged more than enough with one another.

Wait. I mustn’t flatter myself thinking they’d seen or been aware of me. But I see and hear them all the time in the city.

With some, it’s the remains left behind: needles, tents, copper mesh, clothing, grocery carts, and all other hallmarks.

I just needed a little break; a little me time. You know, to miss the more colorful personalities of my ‘friends’ and their belongings.

No. No break for the weary.

My first ‘new friend’ stated there was no restroom at this station. Full stop.

True to my form, I accepted his answer, thanked him (because, human) and moved on, only to meet another ‘friend’ who pointed me in the direction to the very-much-existing restroom.

In an obvious line, waiting for a stall, a young female ‘friend’ working on her Amy Winehouse eyeliner sees the line of two women, one of which I am, whips her head and hair sharply, looks at me and asks: “Is there a line to use the restroom?”

Me: (confused) Yes(?).

My friend: Okay.

She whips her hair again and resumes ‘touching up’ her make up.

I get to the sink to wash my hands.

My friend: From LA?

Me: (politely) No. I just arrived from San Francisco.

Friend: Me too! What are you doing here? How long will you be here?

Me: I just started some open-ended travel. This is my first stop. I’m only visiting a few days.

Friend: I came from the midwest to live with a guy. But now he says I can’t live with him. So I may return to the midwest, but I am not sure. I may stay here.

[Pause, as I am rinsing my hands.]

[Friend’s big bright eyes looking in the mirror, still working on that eyeliner] So, where are you from? How long will you be in LA?

At this point, I am flatl-ining from the friend welcome overload, and retreat while adjusting my mGear.

I leave friend there still working on her makeup.

After existing le toilette, I am overcome with a bit of sadness thinking about this young woman, her story, her parents. I am questioning how I might have impacted her life for the better, so that she finds herself relying on herself and those who’ll truly care for her. I question if her parents were similar to me, in having resolved to give space for their young adulting child to test the treacherous waters they fight us parents to not save them from. There were so many feelings and questions I had after that seven minute exchange.

I question, but was exhausted, from 12 years of single parenting, and couldn’t afford to give it much energy.

I knew and readied myself for moments like this, because: transitioning.

Onward.

Just under one hour later, I text Fiona to inform her of my arrival, to get her address and make my way to her home.

I, wanting to attempt public transit, but she insisted I Uber Pool over. I had never used this or any car sharing taxi service.

Don’t question my living in the city that spawned these services, and my never wanting or felt the need to (given my proximity to any train above or underground) and the small size of The City: Sf.

First bump on this budget conscious travel road: The Uber app wasn’t working for me.

Arrival to Fiona’s was time sensitive. Being considerate of this, I hopped in a taxi that cost up up to 16 times more than my desired option, and had a nice brief conversation with the driver; a handsome Persian man, relatively new transplant to LA as well.

Knocking on Fiona’s door, I was met with frenzied, fussy,  yet welcoming barks from the other two residents: one very social wiry haired terrier, one subdued comfy with his own company mix.

The door opens. Fiona greeting: Ohhh, poor thing. You must be tired.

Actually I wasn’t.

Sadly, she was reading how life had been wearing on my face.

Yiiiikes!

You never want to know your first impression is that of some tired worn-out person. But apparently, that’s how I presented. Ugh.

I’m shown my room, given a key and told I was welcome to tag along as she checked off her to do list.

I accepted.

On an LA train, seeing the faces of people who chose to call this place home, was enjoyable.

We off-board. Walking through, we encounter the early morning smells of food in Chinatown, to reach Mateo’s studio gallery to talk plans of her exhibition.

Intros.

Mateo: Oh, Hi! You look familiar. Are you an actress?

Puzzled, and silently laughing nooo, I remembered I’m LA.

I think: Wow. Life is quite typical, as that was the question of all questions one would expect to hear in LA! So disappointing … lol.

The talks about show, logistics, artist statement, photos etc., were so exciting, because it has been years since I had work on show. To be perfectly frank, I had stopped caring to ever show or participate in the art world again.

I was, momentarily inspired by Fiona and thinking ‘I could do this again’.

The inspiration drifted off with my very next exhalation.

Relate to Fiona, I did.

You see, although an older mom to three adult children, it’s only in recent years she felt acceptance and ownership of the title Artist. I was her.

I remember residing in that space of being a creative, yet not wearing the artist title. For me it was more about my natural talent not being enough own the title, as I lean heavily toward being authentic. To slap on a title could only happen after I had the educational backing to not be a fraud.

Get formally educated I did. And now comfortably wear and introduce myself as an artist, I do. Because I actually Am. This is not because of the $120k degree stored away. But more the art history I was immersed in, that I never would have studied if not for the structure of college.

Forward.

We enjoyed our day walking around DTLA ticking the boxes on her list. And later, had a nice conversation about life, parenting, friends, dating, art, travel, love of textiles and her clothing line.

The next couple days, I perused the wet and chilly streets of LA for hours, unintentionally seeing the stars on the Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and other touristy spots.

It was a nice stroll. I enjoyed people watching. It was quite entertaining seeing many visitors posing and snapping selfies with the ‘stars’.

Back on the Metro at sunset, I made my way back to Fiona’s for a bit more conversation, a bit to eat, then sleep. Since arriving, I found I fell into much-needed deep sleep. This a testament to Fiona’s spirit, and the ease being in and sharing her home.

As my last day approached, I made my way to tick an item on my evolving bucketlist, eating at the popular Japanese Ramen restaurant Daikokuya.

Mission accomplished.

More about my ramen experience.

 

 



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