The atmospheric conditions weren’t fucking around.
… I am going to be real as fuck with you.
For over a week, every single time I have risen out of pubhead and gone outside of where I am base-camped even momentarily… I have come back lightheaded and woozy.
It first hit when I came down and saw they’d nonchalantly boarded up everything. Protecting investments. So I shrunk my circle. I would grab what I needed from the shop below, turn on my heels and warily book back upstairs.
But I had to push out into it today.
God knows the need to see what had me off-lined firsthand was on me.
I looked up a few nearby polling places in the lane of “I may as well do some reconnaissance and get a story of out it,” then headed out to explore and run errands around 330pm. It’d be dark shortly after 5pm due to turning clocks back and in the evening I’d be able to process what I was feeling spirit of the city-wise sans filter.
I charted my course carefully. There are certain stretches down here that the intense energy seems to crazily congeal in, and though a good story for another day, it was not the vibration I was in search of. The streets were full of skateboarders who’ve been as much in heaven in an emptied out downtown LA as I have been, and a smattering of traffic.
As I walked along Grand street I found myself thanking God he’d given me this Downtown LA experience as the perfect one for me, an almost empty one where buildings had been polished by the absence of humans and much of their detritus. Even on shady streets the marble gleamed in this way I am pretty sure I would have never noticed without the quiet click and whirl of this quarantine, roads I’d walked down many a time sans anything beyond absent recognition of the beautiful lines of the buildings that marched down their sides. The ability to be gape-mouthed over the elegant lines of an old building without having to be on guard against whatever else lies in the typical crush of city life is sublime.
People walked past loaded down with groceries and oversized packs of toilet paper, stoically gearing up to wait out whatever comes next due to tomorrow in the safety of their homes.
A few blocks before the bank I came to the first set of signs.
No lines, but an odd warmth emanated from the doorway of the Millenium Hotel. I tend to have a hard time not responding to heat and really miss hotels so I shyly ducked in.
I was greeted by a man who softly asked me if I was there to vote. I explained I already did but was writing about the strange calm before whatever tomorrow was meant to be. We stood chatting under one of the most beautiful ceilings I’ve seen tucked away in the buildings of downtown LA. He spoke confidently about the steady numbers since this particular polling location had opened, how they’d only averaged a couple hundred each day due to so many people having already handled it early or via vote by mail ballots, and how he had great hope for the numbers on November third that they’d do.
I looked up at the ceiling, soaking it all up for a few more beats. I inexplicably felt better for having had a bona fide conversation with him, a man who’d decided to put himself on the frontlines of all of this as his way of embracing his interpretation of his Civic Duty, then headed back into the fray.
I handled my business and was surprise- gifted a goodie bag at the bank as thanks for coming in, which was a nice touch. Ducking into CVS to handle something else I got hit with another kind surprise out of nowhere that I won’t go into beyond saying it was wholeheartedly received.
But it was when I bee-lined PAST Whole Foods and God nudged to me go back and at least grab goat milk[ due to the sporadic fasting I had sauerkraut & a few dawgs in the fridge besides nutraceuticals] that the headiness I began this speaking on hit again.
Then God asked me the simplest, strangest question:
“Okay…but What do you see yourself eating on Election Day?”
I realized that the actuality of the IDEA of food was the furthest thing from my mind, huge for someone who loves via food the way I do. It was deeper than the fasting this month. It was that I had kind of awkwardly lost my appetite. Even when I have been eating lately.
The recognition of the vulnerability in that for me made me steel myself and queue up in the quiet, socially distanced line that wrapped into the carpark alongside the store. Once in, I wandered around trying not to stare at people who were stoically trying to calmly stock up on basics like they’d been last-minute nudged to do so also. I didn’t want to eat anything. The idea of everything made my stomach flip-flop. The thought of seafood made me turn green[which is very hard to do with my complexion], meat made me want to hurl. & I have never grabbed goat milk, avocados and arugula so numbly in my life.
Just like in the store at the base of my building there were a lot more displays of specially priced alcohol around than usual. I had consciously stopped drinking for a few weeks due to the quixotic energy embedded in everything, but today even I was nudged to at least grab a bottle just in case, so I did.
But there was something about the dance of bodies in the shop and in the street that didn’t hit until I ducked into the Citibank building for an iced cocoa to clear my head as the sun started to go down.
…It was Kindness.
Perhaps that is why it threw me off guard.
It’s not that people are terrified. It’s that 2020 seems to have taught at least the brunt of the people meandering around the hind’s feet kind of places I’ve been stashed that… even though we KNOW the worst can happen… all we can respectively do is hope for the best and move on that, breath by breath.
Because this year has been Nutso.
But we ALL seem bluntly aware that, considering the variables it all could have been ALOT worse than it has been.
It’s the hope blanketing this city that is palpable.
Not sure that’s a vibe one would associate so freely at this density with this place. I’m not talking dreams of fame and fortune. This place can run on that with a hand tied behind its back.
People are aware that this could go sideways tomorrow, but on a very simple level what slammed into me was the condensation of the fact that I am not the only one who is consciously, simply, sweetly hoping it does not.
We’re actually going to be okay.
I don’t have to have the particulars of the HOW. That’s not our respective jobs.
I just have to realize I really believe that we will.
That’s more than half of it.
My inner child asked to go to the Music Center one last time so on the way to my temporary home I looped affectionately around the Walt Disney Music Hall I used to dream of living nearby and wandered up into the Music Center’s plaza.
It is also a voting location, as well as a Day of the Dead art Exhibition that I sorely needed to stumble upon.
I went up and struck up a conversation with a poll-worker who said they also had steadily had about 200 a day since the location had opened last Saturday and then pointed me to his supervisor. We stood chatting a good 15 minutes. He asked me if I had already voted and I explained I couldn’t take the agita and had headed over to Norwalk to do it in person on the 21st. He said he felt like their numbers were what they were since so many are tele-commuting, so many businesses are closed, there’s only so many people actually living over here, it’s kind of out of the way and that people have the options of voting in places like Dodger Station- Iconic places to cast their votes where it’ll be seared all the more into their memory.
We got deep out of nowhere talking about the walls inherent in all this- he hadn’t heard about the un-scalable wall going up around the White House. I said something about how the poetry in all of that after all the walls he’s tried to build and he said this:
I was talking to someone the other day about the wall to keep Mexico out of here and the guy went “But when you really look at it, he DID get his wall. It was just a BLUE wall. Think about the police and what they’ve done. It was like “Whoa~ that is goood~! It’s so true, too!”
I was stunned as the truth of it sunk into me as succinctly as it had hit him the other day. It’s actually one of the truest things I have heard all year.
He used the police to divide us again and again. He brought from under the rug what we’d been getting gas-lit for saying the police were doing to BIPOC all this time…actually shined a light on it…and then cheered the police on in their depravity, his continual pandering to the worst in people the only path forward he seemed capable of comprehending.
He’s loving people at their worst, for Being their worst to their neighbors…because with all he was born with his best was Never enough for the family he grew up in. THAT is why they cling to him madly. They hate themselves a little less due to the idea of this man [who despises them if you look at how often he leads them into harms way] might wink at some sick, sad, broken thing the worst in them is compelled to do. And people stick to roads they get to hate themselves a lil less forcefully down until those roads wear thin.
I Told him I was going to use the blue wall metaphor and might even swing by tomorrow to see the turnout, then headed home, feeling the scores of people who NEVER say shit to God lighting the upper reaches UP tonight.
On the way God asked me what I hoped to see tomorrow.
At the bottom of the building I went to grab sponges et al and oddly felt compelled to also grab something that both shocked and stilled me. I actually laughed a little at the idea. Then realized I really believed I was going to get to use it.
Strange how walking around in a cloud of collective kindness settled down upon the streets of LA and getting it was that birthed hope.
I may tune out the whole thing tomorrow.
I’m going to follow my heart on it.
Whatever comes next…we can handle.
Or we wouldn’t be here.
We got this far… for a reason.
Sending prayers of positivity up and hoping all of you are able to find some semblance of peace in the middle of all this.