The art of being Californian, it seems, is to cultivate a loose-limbed insouciance while secretly working away like a frantic ant.

--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History

Monday, June 1, 2009


Have you ever made eye contact with someone and, in that brief moment, wondered what it would be like to slip--just for a second--into his or her life? What is he feeling right now? What motivates her?

That happened to me on my run today.

What motivated the rockabilly guy outside Starlight Lounge to dye his hair with that red skunk stripe? Does he love how his face looks surrounded by all of those carefully sculpted curls?

Why does the lanky man padlocking the gate outside the Budget Rental Car lot, his styrofoam cup of soda topped with a plactic-wrapped croisant sitting at his feet, look so defeated?

How did the sandy blonde pushing the stroller in skinny jeans and high-heeled boots on the corner of Grape and State get to be so happy at that very moment? What makes her beam at her nondescript blue-eyed child with so much joy?

Where is the guy in the knitted, yellow beanie on the corner of India and Vine going? And why is he so obviously avoiding my eye?

When did the two men smoking on the back of their giant pickup on Reynard Way meet that they have such an easy comraderie?

What prompted the group of three pony-tailed women, joints and plastic glasses of white wine in hands, to gather? What is so interesting in their conversation that causes the youngest of them to excitedly wave her joint (the one smoked down the farthest) around in the air?

How would it feel to slip into any of these people's skin and know their life? Their soul? How would it feel for just an instant to have another person not be so alien. So other.

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