A Day of Ice Cream and Motion
Blog Post by Brad Green - Oct.26.2008 - 9:13 pm
A brown blur of smog slouches over Los Angeles. Sunlight slips down the long and slow sides of the roaring buses at the airport. Palm trees shiver out of concrete squares. The cars on the highway whip by. Hurry rattles the air. We drive our burgundy minivan timidly to the resort. What's in front of you is deceptively clear but the horizon is perpetually out of focus here. Buildings are vast shapes within the fog. The faraway stews into obscurity. The near leaps with startling detail: crumpled paper along the highway; the wrinkled fender of a blue Volkswagen vibrating on the highway; the sleek and wet sex of silver BMW's squirting by next to cars held together by thin wire and hate, steered by thick men with tattoos, black goatees, and small eyes. A wine and cheese tasting at the resort upon our arrival. It's the first place I want to go. My wife huffs, presses her lips together, but we trample down. The Merlot is dark as ink. I down three plastic cups full before taking another sloshing with blush. My coiled belly loosening into warmth. A flush fogs my cheeks. California isn't so bad, after all, I think. Night rises at the wrong time. The rhythms of this place are wrong. I'm out of sorts within my skin. The only dirt that I see is in patches of concrete, as if concrete is the whole of earth. The roofs of the houses here are hard. The houses at the top of the hill are worth more money than I can imagine. How can the people there, behind the dark glass and smooth stucco be of the same sort as me? The next day, sitting under vines curling through a white metal trellis. Fat weld scars under the green leaves. Irish music lilts through the air from a Lego man with a peg leg. Children splash in water nearby, leap through drops, bare feet brightly splashing. The kids shiver whenever they stop, drip in the growing shade. Workers around me clear out the trash, drag heavy bags, their limbs dumpy with boredom. It's really too cold to swim or play in the water. The metal table under my right arm numbs the skin. Chill swells out of the metal. The kids don't care as long as they are moving. Brought to a halt by weary parents, their faces change. The slow realization of the temperature ages them. The soul cures within their eyes with the knowledge of mistake and the ending of play. Goosebumps sprout along their thin arms and wobbly legs. They whimper, want to know why they feel this way. It's the slow world, the still world, that bears their pain. The prepared mothers rub their children with loud towels, give them their own heat through embrace. The unprepared look around and understand their failing. The cruel remind their children that it was too cold to play in the water and they should have listened. A thousand people converge, move past, and angle off into their future lives through the space opened up in front of where I sit watching them in Legoland, under the trellis plimmed in leaf, cold in my metal chair, alone by the brown table, my family off in the crowd, allowing me my solitary moment in a day crowded with ice cream and motion. Many pictures are taken. Moments are frozen. Expressions are arrested in faces young and old, are etched into memory with the aid of cameras. Some of what these many people experience will be forgotten at the tip of the first glass tonight or as soon as the car embalms them in the tighter pressure of close confines, like molecules excited into collision by circumstance. Yesterday's arguments may flare while others spark with laughter all the way home, carry that brightness with them as they settle into white beds in their quiet houses, chests rising with a good day's satisfaction. Today I twirled, hung upside down in a robotic arm with my son, my feet loose against a blue sky above, my hair, the strings of my shoes, the flesh of my cheeks, my knees, pushed back from the wide clap of the sky opened up for a blue moment as we hung there, suspended, out of sorts and at ill angle with the ground. I wasn't where I belonged. I was tossed about around my clattering bones, flung far, hauled back, and held to motion not natural for humans but necessary for a father in communion with his son. My belly white where my yellow shirt gaped open between buttons. Next to my son in this crazy hydraulic contraption. I was where I belonged. In this land where one can only see their immediate area, to look long brings the blur of smog. I think it leads to an insular and solipsistic people, but today I saw families: bony kids, fathers with droopy bellies, mothers with sharp tendons, all of them together. One moment I look around and see the signs of decay: brown leaves on gray brick, listing red blossoms, heavy with their age and the ending of the season, a slowness of the people at the end of their day. But in that same moment, right next to the curling decay, underneath it, embossed over it, is laughs, faces unashamed of their glory, preening vine striking into new green territory, sunlight slipping along a shapely calf, people watching themselves pass store windows, some making funny faces, others sucking in their stomachs, a few hurrying swiftly past. Kids in Halloween costumes. Many frantic hunts for bathrooms. I saw a dog wearing four purple shoes today roaming Legoland. Welcome to California.