See also: Homer’s photos and observations from the Pima County courthouse yesterday.
I’m having breakfast at Café Colère and a voice that sounds like an older woman who has been talking into a phone since she walked in the door and even while ordering a coffee is suddenly nearby saying, “That looks good. Having some breakfast?”
I look up and the voice belongs to a clean-cut Mexican-American man six feet tall or so, with salt-and-pepper hair. He’s asking my name. He’s wearing a white, pressed, short sleeve shirt. There’s a Wildcats blue and red lanyard with an ID tag tucked into his shirt pocket the way specialists and technicians who have left the building do.
“Hi Richard, I’m Jerry. Having some breakfast? Going to work? I’m just getting some coffee. I’m not going to work. Just going to do my volunteer work at the senior center. I hope they’ll hire me but they usually just have volunteers. I like your Converse. Do you like Converse? There’s a store at El Con having a buy one get the next pair half-off sale. What size do you wear? Me too. Richard, I want you to give me your shoes when you’re going to get rid of them. Let me see the soles.”
He sets his coffee on the table next to what’s left of my plate of scrambled eggs, kneels down under the table, grabs my left foot and examines the sole.
“Hey those are in good shape!”
He stands up and gently brushes off his knees.
“You’ve got lots of miles on those to go. They’re in good shape. I’m just getting coffee while I wait to meet with my job coach. He makes me write everything down and bring it to our meetings now instead of me calling him all the time when I think of something because I just can’t do that anymore. Hopefully I’ll hear back from Fry’s or Safeway. My family doesn’t want me to work in a restaurant because I need to lose some weight and there’s always food around. Are you going to work? What kind of work do you do that you can wear your Converse to work? Here they will charge you $.75 for your refill, Richard. Have a nice day take care of those shoes for me!”
We both do a little work in the morning from home, but otherwise have the day off. We decide not to go to the beach because we’ve missed the high tide, and here that can make all the difference. We take the bikes to the malecón, which itself is empty, though the bars are filled with Americans enjoying the balmier weather and beer. It’s the kind of day that will sell a lot of beer. The air has cooled but not dried. There’s a breeze. The shrimp boats are out.
We head over to the old pier and families are swimming. A booze cruise returning to the docks gets stuck in the low-tide. It belches black smoke and Guns ‘N Roses as it struggles.
In the evening we watch Alphaville. The first eight minutes feel like an hour, but we stick it out and end up enjoying it. The moody shots of Modernist interiors remind me of Tucson banks from the same era and watching them makes me feel like I’ve done my part for Tucson Modernism Week even though those buildings are in Paris, I’m in Mexico, and Tucson is in Arizona.
I see an Amtrak bus headed south and board it. I hand the driver my ticket which I already have but still need to pay for and ask how much it would be. Could I pay her and if not where was the ticket window? The driver speaks to me Spanish I can’t understand. “¿Qué?” I ask. And she motions me on without paying. The bus is crowded with people and the aisle is narrow. Only one person can get through at a time and that is walking sideways. The chairs are wide and roomy though, so I decide that must be the reason. A little boy pushes my belly in and squeezes by. At first I sit next to an academic with a stack of old hardcover books next to him. I have to move the books over a bit. Then I get up and go to the very back of the bus to a history exhibit of two seats from a space capsule. They have the names of the astronauts John and Adam in uppercase block letters on them. I try to take some pictures with my phone, but I’m checking now and they’re not there.
It's been so windy here the last few days. We haven't had a beach day since July. We leave the umbrella at home and go to Sandy Beach. The waves are choppy and constant and filled with seaweed that covers us. We pick it off and and another foamy wave hits and covers us again. The sky is tagged with the silhouettes of birds seemingly sitting in place as the air and summer and tide below drift away.
How effortlessly we forget the Spanish word for moth.
The bed was comfortable. The service was friendly. The room was clean. There were no unpleasant smells. We enjoyed being in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. We walked and drove and drove some more and then walked some more. But never very far. At night we unwound while sipping pinot noir in the poolside garden. Accompanied by lounge music and locals talking about their bands and auditions, and Germans smoking fat cigars and talking about who knows what, we dipped our tired feet into the warm waters of the jacuzzi and confided in one another the details of endured medical procedures requiring catheters.
Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers in Los Angeles is closed to the public on Wednesdays.
Where did I get the idea that we’d be the only people at Griffith Observatory? I thought we’d practically have the place to ourselves save maybe for some teenagers with switchblades and pompadours. And if we got there early enough in the day and there was still sunlight, we could take pictures of each other in front of a telescope dome with the Los Angeles skyline in the background before hurrying to get another shot with the Hollywood sign before we lost the light entirely.
Sometime before we left, we’d sit on a bench and on our phones find scenes from movies and television shows the observatory has appeared in.
It turns out that in addition to the sweeping views and swell WPA architecture, Griffith Observatory is a very popular tourist destination. It reminded me of the crowds at the Louvre if everyone at the Louvre arrived in a sedan and got angry and started honking because they couldn’t find parking near the Mona Lisa.
Saturday night on the way home from dinner, I asked Hiram to pull over and park under the tree where on New Year’s Day, 2007 we first kissed. I offered Hiram a mango I had hidden in the glove compartment. Neither one of us cares much for jewelry, certainly not enough to keep in the glove compartment, which is to say: Rings weren’t ever a consideration. We took each others’ hands and I asked him to marry me. He said yes. The next day we went west. Along the way our mango was confiscated at the Arizona-California border. Nonetheless, on Monday we were married in a civil ceremony on the lawn of the San Diego County Administration building.
It was a fine day for body surfing and fending off capitalist ruffians who mistake us for the sort of people who buy crap with sports team logos.
How effortlessly we forget the Spanish word for mud flaps.