Saturday, September 30, 2017

Day Off in The Valley

First thing I did when I woke up was chase the cockroaches out of the kitchen.  It warmed my heart as this was a tradition during the several years I was a valley guy.  It's something I learned to live with.  They seem to have an agreement that once day breaks, they all go back to their hiding places. And any food that I've left out overnight is fair game.

I had spilled a tiny drop of chili on the counter and there was one particularly persistent critter that kept feasting, even after I turned the light on and got my face really close to him so I could watch the fascinating creature. It almost seemed like he was so involved in his meal that he didn't notice me.  Until he did. And then suddenly, he bolted away and hid between the wall and the cabinets.

After having my coffee and walking River, I went into the office to pay for two more nights here. I had reserved my stay here several months earlier so I locked in what turned out to be an old rate. Last night was a last minute reservation, so I paid the current rate. It took a little bit of convincing to get the clerk to honor my reserved rate, but I did prevail and am happily enjoying my room having paid the July rates in September!!

Something important to note is that my tooth does not hurt today. It is so strange, how yesterday I was in great pain. The pain was severe enough to be a distraction and I took two aspirin and went to bed at nine pm just so I wouldn't have to deal with it. I was NOT looking forward to suffering for the next few days. So imagine my delight to wake up pain free. I'm not sure if the aspirin is working or what could be going on, but I know that I need to have it looked at.

So far I haven't heard back from the dentist in Santa Barbara.

I took River with me as I went to the Sprouts market to restock my cooler with food. The first thing I did was refill some of my water jugs in the vending filter. As I did a woman approached me and asked if I knew that the city was now putting potassium in our water supply. I didn't know that and I engaged her to get more information. I get a kick out of having conversations with crazy street people sometimes. It is interesting to note that if you talk to them long enough you realize that they are on a loop. I tend to talk with them until they start to repeat themselves, then I know I've gotten it all and I wish them a great day and move on.

Driving through the valley is nostalgic. I spent many formative years here and it's amazing how much it still has that 'home' feeling. And I find myself being flooded with sense memories on certain corners. I feel like the valley is similar to Manhattan, if you took it and spread it all out into one story and replaced the subway with parking lots and car washes. It has that never-ending always-going, something-for-everyone quality. It feels like you could just go and go and go and never reach the end, and on every block there is enough activity to keep you busy for a month.

After writing up a press release and catching up on my messages for several hours, River rescued me from my own reclusivism and forced me to get some sunshine. Filled with thoughts and feelings, mostly fond memories, I walked my dog on the streets of the San Fernando Valley on a beautiful,  hazy day. We crossed over the LA River on Sherman Way in what I gather is the floor coverings district? Tiles marble, carpets, acrylics, doors too! Up ahead was a considerable ruckus, so I herded River off the main street.
This late Saturday afternoon the particular side street we found ourselves exploring was fairly deserted. We passed the pot store and then the chick smoking outside. There was a flurry of activity at the outdoor costume bazaar, "Facebook me tomorrow if you just can't do without that alligator." Only speaking Spanish, someone tried to tell me I had left my phone in the wall, but I could not understand; I finally discovered that the gesture was toward an iPhone with a light pink case on it. When I saw it, I immediately assumed it belonged to a young girl, but this passing bike rider thought it was mine and the kind soul didn't want me to forget it or have it stolen. We shared a laugh of wonder as we both surrendered to the fate of the phone. Shrug, "that's a beautiful dog", thanks.
Isn't it funny how we create these pictures of people with so little evidence?  Like how did you picture the person in that last story? I was careful not to describe the person; but do you create a person in your head? BOOM! 
We passed the hobo jungle and everyone kept to themselves. I led River to the outside of the encampments which meant for us, the streets were  more about staying a respectful distance from people's homes. Fortunately there was no traffic.
And finally to the acme of our journey. I so wish I had brought my phone, although I'm sure even a video couldn't capture the intensity of the corner of Mayner and Greenbush Sts. A combination of memorabilia and garbage in perfect balance. I don't know what I was looking at... the back of an abandoned train platform? Grain silo? Warehouse? No trees, all corrugated metal, rusted and faded into a patina of use and neglect. Any of the trucks parked nearby could be someone's home. There's no turning left or going straight; this is a L shaped intersection. And down Greenbush St was a long walk between two high fences on either side. An obvious turning around point, but not before profound appreciation for the splendor of this moment in deep Van Nuys.

I'd go back and take a picture of this spot for you, but I'm not going back there at night.

The tooth started to threaten to hurt again as I was eating some corn chips with my soup. But I chewed gingerly and washed thoroughly and so far, it hasn't started up again. The dentist never wrote back to me, so maybe she couldn't fit me in on Tuesday. I had told her if she couldn't see me Tuesday not to bother because I'd be gone. So I guess I'll just make an appointment for when I'm back in Seattle.



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