Monday, August 07, 2006
I'm coming off of a three day weekend that was pretty cool.. The best and most interesting day out of the three was Saturday. Whew..talk about some interesting moments! The first part of the day was spent with a good friend(Jody) visiting from Hawaii. I had a blast showing her pretty much all of LA, though there was still a lot more to cover. I gave her the kind of tour that a tour guide might not do. I took her from the so-called roughest areas of town to the most beautiful? Although to me, beauty is found everywhere and most times when you find beauty surrounded by danger, it can be the most rewarding moment. Sort of like that Tupac concept of a rose growing out of concrete. The first stop that I took Jody to was such a place where if you look real hard you can always find a rose growing out of concrete or peeking out doors and windows covered with bars. I took Jody through Compton and into Watts. The images above are from our stop in Watts and never did she feel threatened or in danger. Personally, I felt like I was at home. When I spoke with Jody on Sunday she told me that a friend of hers cringed at the thought of being in Watts. I mean, people tend to have an almost allergic and hysterical reaction when you mention going to Watts. To me that's sad because its like you're throwing away and forgetting about some beautiful people, culture and history. The Watts Towers itself is such an amazing man made structure.
Anyway, after giving Jody a tour of Watts and a little bit of Compton, it was time to take her to LA. We drove through other parts of South Central. She could sense the gradual change in neighborhoods every step of the way. She wondered why there was such an obvious lack of trees in the poorer areas of town which made it feel so hot. It was like a concrete jungle, if you will and yet as we moved closer to the west side of Los Angeles on through the Wilshire district and the Larchmont area the air was so cool and breezy. Beautiful trees lined each neighborhood street. Homes were gorgeous. Even the older homes were refurbished and nice. We made a stop at the Grove, which is a mall in Los Angeles. I wanted her to try some alligator fillets in the farmers market section of the mall at a place called the Gumbo Pot. She was surprised. It wasn't that bad. Not that she went crazy over eating it but at least she got to try something she at first was very leery of eating. Typically the Gumbo Pot does a lot better with making their alligator. Seems like they went cheap on a brotha and changed their nice sized fillets to tiny bite size nuggets. That wasn't cool but still a fun time in the market.
After that it was on to the so called rich areas of town; Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, etc etc... People were out and about walking everywhere and enjoying the fantasy life wishing they could afford all that expensive ish. From there it was on to the beach areas and stopping in Marina Del Rey for a nice long walk along this area that has a nice lagoon and million dollar plus homes. Another great time and a beautiful way to end the day before dropping Jody back off at her hotel. I ended my day by stopping by my favorite Starbucks in the Ladera Center. I was just thinking I'd hang out for a quick minute and sip on my white chocolate mocha but instead I ended up getting into a two hour conversation with a very interesting dude named Raymond. He was a big, broad shouldered, light skinned brotha. A very young 43 year old. Loved to laugh real loud and from what I would quickly learn, had some interesting experiences to talk about. At first I wasn't sure I was listening to the truth but once he showed me some physical evidence, I couldn't help but believe the brotha..
First story Raymond shared with me was a love story. He's still healing from falling in love with a beautiful lady from Morocco that he met in LA when she was on vacation. She lives in Paris and he said that he's been there four times to visit with her. This long distance relationship took a lot out of him. He'd built up this dream to marry this lady because she had looks that was beyond his wildest dreams so he felt like he had to constantly pinch himself because he was able to be with her and talk to her constantly over the phone in between the visits. But then it happened.. He flew out there for the fourth time and spent a month in Paris. His intentions at this time were to propose to the lady and to relocate out there. He was so sure that this was gonna happen that he'd quit his job already and gave up his apartment. He was that sure about her. Then as he sat in the hotel in Paris with the Eiffel Tower standing tall in the distance whenever he'd look out his window, his time spent with the moroccan lady would only amount to about thirty minutes per day. She had other things to do and couldn't make much time for him. He gave her the ring but she never wore it. She pretty much stepped on his heart and crushed his soul and that's a heavy load to carry when sitting in a hotel so faraway from home. Imagine that long plane flight coming back with a broken heart. The moroccan lady let Raymond know that she'd found someone else and then his dream come true was done. Raymond showed me his plane ticket and Paris subway pass that he used to get around out there. He kept both folded up in his wallet. Those are probably two things he may need to consider getting rid of or at least keeping in a shoebox somewhere rather than in his wallet. I told him that stuff like that makes his journey that much more interesting. Not many can say they experienced a long distance romance with a gorgeous moroccan lady living in Paris. Be proud of that but try to move on and look forward to a more grounded and closer kind of love experience... hopefully.. Though we know love aint always a grounded experience..
Anyway, I learned more about Raymond and he shared some other cool and interesting experiences he's had with his work as a counselor in a facility that helps young men between 18 to 25 transition from being in jail to making it in the real world. The sad reality that he shared with me is that he's only had one success story despite the fact that he said ALL of those young men are very intelligent, talented, most had great computer knowledge, etc etc but something inside of them keeps them from leaving a certain mentality or lifestyle behind. Raymond said to me that a lot of those young men do three things. He said "them young men be wishing, dreaming and gangbanging. Then they dont realize that the last thing cancels out the first two. Once that happens I can't help them any more. After ten chances or more, they on their own!"
Saturday was a good day.. I'm sure I'll run into Raymond again. He loves to hangout at that Starbucks too and watch the bootie parade along with all the sideshows that go on there... And many thanks to Jody for a beautiful visit and all those delicious and sweet smelling goodies from Hawaii.. Catch ya later.. *smile*