It is winter back home. Here it is a balmy summer, engulfing tourists in its heatwave. A plague of weeds erupt from the sidewalk, reaching for the precious sunlight. Tall palm trees bespatter the side of the foot path, shading my face as I pass them, burnt and bronzed from the harsh L.A sun. On this rock face of a city, money is a carving implement used to sculpt its inhabitants; building up some, and breaking away others, piece by piece until theres nothing left of them but a cardboard sign on a street corner and an old used coffee cup with a couple quarters hiding inside.
Vagrants venture down the musty alley ways in search of disguised treasures, hidden in the trash. The abundant debris of homeless people hiding in a tired city, spread all over like a spiderwebbed crack in a windscreen. Smells of car exhaust and fryer oil consume the area like a dull fog, slipping into my lungs. As I walk down the overcast boulevard, weaving my way around drifters, the wreckage of broken dreams and failed pursuits at fame give off a scent, a slight tinge that leaves me feeling icky.
Hives of cars and buses buzz up and down the street; flying past an assortment of vibrant signs and speed limits. Grey office blocks tower over the path, the sides of the building tattooed with psychedelic gang signs and graffiti drawings. The colours on the grey intertwine, creating a masterpiece on the blank slate of a wall. I feel my life in a standstill as the city moves around me, leaving me there, on that street corner. I am an afterthought.
My pace quickens with each glance at the tin can homes lining the left sidewalk, decorated with trash and dead leaves. Feculent puddles tarnish the pavement, leaving a mucky odour as I pace by. My shoes are defiled by grime.
Im closer now, excitement builds in me, practically steps away from Disneyland. Along the cracked pathway, carnival food melts into the concrete fractures. Discarded Mickey Mouse merchandise litters the park, weather beaten and trampled from the crowds. An old bag lady, collecting hats and toys like they’re gold.
As if in contrast, stepping inside Disneyland from the street, I can feel the wealth; kids begging for candy from their parents, chubby from years over overeating. Tourists come in flocks following the hordes every turn to the food stands. Deep pockets and a hunger for new experiences, tourists are at the bottom of this industry food chain. Money being the golden ticket to enjoyment. Wanderers look in from the fence line, only dreaming of what lies ahead. In this moment I feel my upbringing and my privilege slap me in the face all at once, overwhelmed by what I have seen and what I haven’t.
A beautiful sight, my childhood animated around me, bringing up forgotten memories. I ignore the L.A streets, I try to enjoy myself and pretend that the good side of the city is the only side; ignorance becomes my blessing.