I’m not sure if it is ever quiet in the city of Los Angeles. Perhaps in the outskirts of this crowded place, but certainly not when you are staying a few blocks down from Hollywood Boulevard.
Constant noise, incessant honking, the sounds of grocery carts being pushed by those whose life is housed on the streets. Conversation everywhere drifting out of nowhere. Remains of broken bottles and strewn trash littering dirty concrete. Smog hovering in the air.
This city is a visual and auditory cacophony of pollution.
Truth be told, I find L.A. to be a rather careless city where materials and people are equally interchangeable, equally dispensable. I can’t say I’m overly dazzled and nourished by movie stars and money and extravagant riches.
Concrete can’t exhale the way a tree does.
Perhaps this is why I haven’t felt inspired to write much while I’m here. My soul does not seen to come alive when I walk or go for my morning run on these streets. Or perhaps it is simply that I have been so incredibly busy and surrounded by giggling dancers the entire time there has been little room to think about my deeper meaning in life.
Think about the steps to a contemporary jazz combination? Yes.
Think about how much older these limbs are as I breathe into my stretch and gently try and loosen an overly tight hamstring? Yes.
Think about how much I smell like a pair of tired out feet and yearn for a shower with frothy body wash? Yes.
Think about what currently makes my soul sigh and muse and yearn?
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Can’t you see I’m trying to learn a jazz funk combination with a room of uber hip teenagers and twenty somethings who could dance circles around me?
And so L.A. goes.
Despite my reluctance to embrace this city with open arms, there have been some lovely moments I have tucked away into my box of smiles. The local coffee shop just down the street where I have gotten iced coffee with cream each day as the friendly barista greets me with a “Good Morning Ms Alaska!”
The total joy I felt when learning a slap happy Gene Kelleyesque Broadway combination that it is indeed so good to be alive, indeed so good to be dancing. Watching my younger dancers plunge heedlessly into the ocean at Santa Monica beach as they raised their arms in total abandon embracing life, play, joy.
These are the moments that make me smile.
These are the moments that make a rich life.
And so I have greeted my first day of August in this loud city. A smattering of running, dance, concrete, people, crowds, stimulation, population, noise, and tiny moments of soul breathing.
I only have about 24 hours left in this city, and while I will absorb as much as I can in my last day, stretching my dance limbs as far as they go, smiling with my dancers over the kinds of things teenagers smile at, I will be ready for the exhale of home.
In the meantime, I best put my twinkle toes back on. There is a particularly hard contemporary class I’m taking later today where I hear the teacher teaches the combination so fast one is hard pressed to keep up. I have a vision of myself flailing around at the back of the room completely lost.
I think my best bet will be just to exhale, go with it, and channel my dancer’s heedless plunge into the ocean by raising my arms in total abandon embracing life, play, joy and dance.