Editor’s Note: I welcome contributions to this blog from everyone. It’s about the experience of L.A. in all its richness and diversity. Many people have worked long and hard to make L.A. a better city and the better we understand each other, the more likely will be to succeed. This contribution is from Sandy Sand, a longtime community journalist and activist.
By Sandy Sand
My own island or a shack on a small lake somewhere is looking better and better all the time.
Living in L.A. is looking worse and worse.
But then, L.A. never looked good to me, just as living in the suffocating heat of the Valley never looked good to my oldest daughter, who I dragged here from West L.A.
I was uprooted from East Lansing, Michigan, by my parents whose brothers and sisters preceded us here. I liked the visits we made here, but move here?
No, it wasn’t for the young me, and besides, I’d just gotten a brand new sled and my very own shoe ice skates. The sled didn’t come to L.A. with me, but the skates did; I still have them and they still fit.
It was also the last winter that it really snowed. I mean snowed! Drifts up to the second story windows. Ever try to walk up a snowdrift to peek into a friend’s window and say hi, because she was in bed with the chick pox you gave her? Bummer! We could have had so much fun trying to navigate that drift together.
It looked solid, but it wasn’t. Before I could say red, red robin, the snow pile had drifted up to my waist and I realized it was not only a lost cause, but I’d snowed myself into thinking I could do it.
Besides the fun of that, the fire department had flooded a field that was close enough to walk to with ice skates slung over one shoulder with one banging our chests while the other kept patting us on the back.
You can’t do that in L.A. without plowing your way up overcrowded mountain roads or driving to a rink, if there is still such a thing here.
In L.A., in the Valley we plow our way through traffic to go anywhere at any time of day. Drive time is all the time.
Traffic is the least of our problems when compared to the litany of pisser-offer headlines in the two major dailies I read every morning, which make my blood pressure soar and my thoughts to rove to a one-step-above-a-doghouse of a cabin on a small long-forgotten-named lake in Michigan.
Every morning, noon and night that two-and-a-half-room cabin looks better and better. The snow and cold doesn’t look too good, but the lake and cabin do.
One room, that would be generous to call a living room, came furnished with one hard wooden bench and roll-away beds for my mom, dad and sister.
I got lucky and slept in a closet-sized loft in the attic where there was hardly enough room for the single bed that was pushed up against the far wall under a window overlooking the lake.
There was a postage stamp-size kitchen with a rickety table and chairs and fly paper hanging from the ceiling.
Even the giant irradiated mosquitoes and that gross strip of sticky paper plastered with the carcasses of annoying insects looks better in my mind than the headlines look to my eyes and brain.
If and when I ever get back to Michigan to look for that lake, Sunday mornings are as close as I can get to that rural escape. For six hours there’s no TV, no radio, no gardeners, no workmen, no one awake but me, and occasionally the dog who comes into my office for a pet or a dog cookie, my computer and the New York Times crossword.
It’s quiet. Bucolic quiet.
So as long as any of us are stuck here we have two choices:
We can grouse and do nothing while making plans to escape, although from my friend’s experience, all the ills of L.A. followed her to her once placid Big Island of Hawaii.
Or we can get active in anyway we can to make the changes we want to see in this once pretty good place to live.
The thought of the lake and the bed under the attic window where I could dream my dreams while looking up at the stars…that was when you could see them before they got blighted out by artificial light from the planet…look dreamy.
Peace. A measure of personal peace is what I think we’re looking for. I’ve been to a lot of places, but none measure up to that lake of the past, or my memories have become smudged by time.
In the meantime, for all of us who are living here, I’ll leave you with paraphrased words from Air America Radio’s Thom Hartmann.
It’s your city. Get out there and take it back. Tag, you’re it!