City of Angels

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
I take you through my haven and the journey through my eyes into Los Angeles.

Submitted: March 16, 2017

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Submitted: March 16, 2017

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The City of Angels

I shut the door behind me as I run toward the street. I look back at my house as it gets smaller by the distance. I look to see if I am being followed by my parents. I hit the corner of the elementary school in front of my house and now I am safe from criticisms, tension and family expectations of having to be the good girl. However, I still keep a fast speed in my step. I wonder how long until my parents notice I am gone? I need to hurry, make it to safety before they can find me. I walk down on the uneven, cracked sidewalk. I pass the apartment buildings where Hispanic kids run out front chasing each other and men are standing in a circle after work sharing a beer. I rush by a woman with a child in one hand and another in a stroller. I bump past the neighborhood “crackhead” anxiously walking with lost wandering eyes, magnified by his circular glasses. I keep looking back and around trying to identify any cars that resemble my mom’s Toyota Corolla or my dad’s Toyota Camry. I pass by liquor stores and aisles of apartment buildings filled with the same people that I have seen all my life. There I pass the kids I go to school with walking home, the older potbellied creepy men that whistle at any girl that passes by, the mothers coming from the grocery store Vallarta at the end of the street, and the gang members “cholos” smoking marijuana as they walk down the street. I am almost there. I see the end of the long street. A street that used to bring me fear of getting raped by the rapist that lived along this street and memories of getting into trouble with my best friend. Fear now is far from my mind with a switchblade in hand that my boyfriend gave to me.  At the end of this noisy, familiar street I know so well is the access to escape. The metro orange line bus is there to take me away. I want to go far away from the San Fernando Valley.

I wait patiently for the bus on the cold gray grainy bench at the metro station. I look around hoping to make a clear escape without any complications. For me, a complication would be my parents finding me before I get the chance to get on the bus. The bus comes, a silver rough presence with an orange strip on the sides. I get on; I made it. I am in the clear. The metro has only a handful of people in it. The whole back row is empty. I gravitate toward the back. I sit on the last seat that has a steel outline on the blue cushion and strange looking red and orange shapes cover it with hints of gum that was left long ago. The seat is on the left where I can lean my head against the coolness of the window. I recline back and put my feet up on top of a steel bar that connects the seat in front of me. I stare out the window and I feel at peace.

I see the familiar scenery as I leave this Valley. The bus goes through a single road that is designated for it. I pass an LA Fitness, Van Nuys Courthouse, Los Angeles Valley College and the back of auto part buildings. I pass by a mural of a Virgin Mary against a wall. All of the flashing images are getting me closer to my haven and further from my reality. I get to the North Hollywood station and I get off the metro with the other people migrating to the redline station (underground train). North Hollywood is a crucial point. I am close enough to go back home or far enough to continue the rest of my journey. This is a place of interaction, a mesh of people of all types. There are people rushing in suits to work, stands of food and artisan products being sold, a man with a microphone pleading to follow the word of the Lord, tired middle-aged women on their way to work, homeless people seeking any money they can acquire from people, sheriffs with brown uniforms and black sunglasses that cover their eyes, teenagers on their way to Univeral Studios, and the mid-twenty year olds concealing a bottle of alcohol in their jackets. Then there is me without an identity and without a real destination although I know I’m headed to Los Angeles. It is a long two hours journey to get to LA.

I walk down to the four sections of stairs into the darkness of the illuminated lights of the underground station. When you are down there, you are disconnected. All signal is lost. I stand on the platform of the subway. There is a blackness in both directions of the tunnel. I can feel when the train is coming. The ground starts to tremble and I feel a gush of wind hit my face. The wind feels refreshing to me in contrast to the warm stuffiness of the platform. I see lights coming from the tunnel and the screams of the subway as it decelerates to make its stop. A big steel subway is in front of me with red lines painted across the middle. The inside is brightly illuminated which is seen through the glass and steel doors and windows. I can look into the interior of the subway through the glass windows. A beeping sound accompanied by a red flashing light above the door alerts me that the subway is ready to enter. All the people swarm in front of the doors to rush in to get a seat. People push and shove to pack the long subway. I get a seat in the back next to a window. The seat is a dirty cream “white” with blue seat cushions that have odd shapes and black dried gum on it. There is graffiti on the back of the seat in front of me, both written and carved. All I can see is black darkness and my reflection on the glass window. The subway is hot and humid. I start to sweat and anxiously wait for the subway to start running. I finally hear the fresh sound of the air conditioner being turned on and the beeping sound alerting the passengers that the doors are about to close.

From North Hollywood to Union station in Downtown Los Angeles all I see is darkness and then light passing by, only leaving an imprint of the light in your eyes. In total there are thirteen stops that are made. All I can do is observe hints of other people’s lives through a train seat.  I am captivated by the relaxation found in my solitude. I feel at peace for a moment. The further the route goes, the increase of ease I feel from the pressures of my world. My place of paradise is the City of Los Angeles. The route, too, and the bus and train themselves are my havens. They form my a physical as well as a mental escape from my reality and a progression to a newfound adventure.

I believe that the further I distance myself from where I live, the broader understanding I could have of myself and of the world. I have time to think and explore. I am captivated by this marvelous place that is filled with culture and music. Los Angeles provides an intangible feeling for me. My heart races with excitement and eyes focus on the city streets filled with small businesses that I pass.  I can stare out as I pass by Chinatown and my favorite place to pass, the water reservoir that connects all of Los Angeles’s water. My childish mind encourages my escapes. I feel that this is where I belong, among the variety of people that fill the city. I am fearless in my adventure to run far from a world of expectations, fears, and responsibilities. I feel free. I am passing through the motions of life. I don’t have to worry about the future nor the past. I remember the first time I left the valley to visit Los Angeles. I was fourteen. It was a time of chaos, love, and excitement in both my home and social life. Those moments, those times, and those people are far from my life but I still come back to my LA paradise. This place I can feel at peace away from the disappointment now, that I caused as the daughter that fell from grace, and the only time I can bear witness to the world without having to be in it. The bus and train are spaces where I can think about my life and these “chariots” have enabled me to make better choices. This continues not just as I make the voyage to the city of Angels but in every bus, I am fortunate to ride. Memories flutter in my mind and the feeling of being at peace surfaces up every time.

 


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