I was born in San Francisco, and it is San Francisco and the Bay Area that makes the most sense to me, even when the things and people there are wacky. I understand the nature of, say, Berkeley, the aspects of the culture there that people the world over make fun of. I lived in Berkeley for a year, and was able to explore Berkeley Bowl, Monterey Market, 4th Street, Shattuck Avenue, The Claremont, the border skirting Emeryville. I spent a lot of time on Sacramento Street, seeing the way--like Oakland--the city is stratified by elevation. I don't like the economic issues of the flatlands of Berkley or Oakland, but I know them, Oakland being larger and more stratified and more problematic. I know the suburbs, the hot summer days and miles of shopping centers.
I can diagram all our freeways in my head, the arteries of the 80's--280, 580, 680, 880, 980. I can get you from Novato to San Jose, up to Fremont and out to Walnut Creek with my eyes closed, hands tied, bound and slightly gagged (I have to at least be able to mumble directions).
I can know all of this about the Bay Area, the good and the bad, and then I end up in Los Angeles and I feel I am truly an alien visitor, collecting data for the mother ship.
While here in Westwood, I'm staying at a slightly swanky hotel because staying here enables me to walk to campus for my class. I'm surprised daily by the way things can be big in Los Angeles. There is very big hair--big and blonde hair. Big breasts are, well, very big and often worn by young and old women without much adornment or clothing cover. Breasts. Hello there, I say, realizing that it is 72 degrees here, so of course they want to be free.
There are big black cars waiting out front every morning and evening, and men and women in big sweatshirts with hoods on running to the big cars. Because they want to be hidden, I want to find out who they are, ripping off their hoods and staring. I don't because I am still trying to not be arrested (or kicked out of the hotel). They roar off in the Hummer limo, a vehicle so big no one in the Bay Area is actively pursuing such rides these days. But in LA, but ig good, even as the DOW crashes.
There are big prices, even when no one can afford them. With a friend one night, we had a drink each and a bowl of edaname. 50 dollars. Hello? What planet is this? Oh, yeah. Los Angles. Sorry, I forgot.
At this hotel, there is a big fantasy being played out, a sound track going for every moment of our experience here. In the hallways, elevators, gym, bar. We are big, important people, with a rhythm and beat behind us. Here we come! Big important people!
When I go home today, everything will seem much smaller, I think. Where is my sound track, for one? How will I be able to walk around with out the base telling me to step, one, two, one two?
And when I get into my MINI, forget it. I'll feel tiny and know I'm back in the Bay Area for sure, where small is good and environmentally sound.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org