Adventure? Excitement? A Jedi Craves Not These Things

Apparently, I’ve been missing something in my life.  Like all the references of Star Wars in popular culture.   What?  I’ve been busy.  (If you ever want to shock people, just tell them you’ve never seen Star Wars. Then see what happens when you say you haven’t seen the first three Indiana Jones movies before seeing the fourth one.)

Mac* and I watched Episode IV last night.  And I’ll admit, (somewhat) grudgingly, that it was a fun movie.  Though, it’s not like I didn’t have a vague idea of what will happen.  I don’t think anyone can go through life without knowing the big spoilers for Episodes IV – VI.

But I guess I had to watch it eventually.  No matter how much second-hand knowledge you acquire in your life, it’s always different to experience it.

The Red Line

Los Angeles is not known for its subway.  People who have lived here for years don’t even realize there is a subway.  Admittedly, it’s not very convenient – doesn’t reach most of the spread-out city.  But it’s there, and I take it.

One of the perks of taking the subway is the opportunity to watch people.  Usually, I read or knit or nap – anything that detaches me from all the other people I share a space with for the twenty-minute ride.  But there are rare occasions when I just watch the people around me and start to wonder how they got there and where they’re going (in life).

You have your standard “crazy” people – the ones that make you avoid taking the subway alone after the sun goes down.  Business men and women suited up with matching briefcases.  Nannies, mothers, high school students, tourists.  Tall, short, disabled, and lazy.  Granted, it’s not an entirely representative microcosm of Los Angeles (you won’t find movie stars on the subway), but the Metro still provides the glimpse into the lives of someone else.

Yesterday, a girl – probably in her late teens or early twenties – boarded the train with her boyfriend and an older gentleman.  Their clothing were tattered and dirty; it didn’t seem like they showered in awhile.  They fulfilled the stereotypical image of the cast-offs of society.  Everyone around them avoided eye contact and were annoyed (slightly intrigued) when their actions were not “what you’re supposed to do in public.”

Sitting there, just observing this trio, I noticed the girl had cutting scars on the top of her left arm.  I wasn’t surprised.  I kept thinking to myself, not out of pity but from genuine curiosity, “What happened to this girl?  How bad is the pain in her life?”

& – – – – //

About three years ago, I met someone who would change my life.  She has so many of the qualities that I wish I had; she is full of life and laughter, finds amusement in the simplest things, precocious, and not cynical about the world around her.  When she sees me, her face is the greatest expression of pure love.  When she cries, I want to fix everything that is wrong with world so she doesn’t have to cry anymore.

She’s one of my best friends and she’s only three-years-old.

I remember a day in the summer of 2006 when she helped me cope with the death of my former boss.  The circumstances of his death are still unknown to me and the thought that haunts me most is whether he died alone.  He shut himself off.  He just faded away.  And I feared, “Will that be me?”

Sitting on the couch, I had Iggy* on my lap and just looked at her.  She was about 7 months old then.  Still couldn’t talk or walk or do anything for herself.  Everything was still new for her.  Blank slate.  I started crying and thought, “How do we get so screwed up?  How do we get from Point A to Point Fucked-Up?”

I made a promise to myself and to her that day.  I promised not to let all the downs in life prevent me from living my life.  I want to help show this little new person that things don’t have to be so bad.

& – – – – //

That day with Iggy flashed in my mind when I was watching the girl on the subway.  How did she get from being just like Iggy to where she was now?

A few stops later, a mother boards the train.  She’s pushing a stroller with a three-year-old girl in it.  The child has no hair, a scar on the top of her head, and patient-identificaton bracelets on her right wrist.  They sit across from Subway Girl and her two male companions.  And I find myself asking, once again, “What has happened to this girl?  How bad is the pain in her life?”

Such an interesting juxtaposition of humanity, really.   Subway Girl with her self-inflicted scars sitting across a child, around Iggy’s age, with scars designed to help save her.  And I realize, maybe the two are not that different.  The world puts us through so many trials and heartbreaks and beatings that maybe it’s just a straight line from Point A to Point F.  And maybe, by the time we get to Point F, some are just too tired to keep going.

When Subway Girl stood to exit the car, she wished the mother to have a good day.  It was sweet and soft and heart-felt.  And I saw a small glimmer of hope.

Maybe there’s still hope for her to get to someplace past Point F.  Maybe there’s hope for all of us.

coffeeshop conversations

She noticed his hesitation.  Usually, he would confidently stride to the empty seat in front of her, plop down and begin talking about whatever topic tapped his interest that day.  Today, he hesitated – some internal debate holding him back.  After a quick plan of action decided upon, he sat down.

“So, you made your decision,” she stated.  “The one about me.”

“What makes you say that?”  He’s still cautious.  And surprised; she knows.

“Because I see it.  You came here with the purpose of letting me down gently.”

“It’s probably not a good idea to keep doing this.”

“And there it is.”

He dreamt up so many different scenerios in his head on the way to the trendy coffeeshop.  He expected this ingenue to be devastated, or at the very least disappointed; he expected the stereotypical reaction to a broken heart. (As if he could break it.)  Instead, a small smile escaped her lips, her eyes softened; she looked accomplished.

Home?

Searching for a new place to live and to call home for an extended period of time is tiring.  But I’m excited … and apprehensive.  This new place will require committment – something that I did not really have to deal with at any point in my life.

Growing up an Army brat, I never expected to live in any one place for more than four years.  Even when my parents bought their current house in Tacoma (their committment), I never imagined myself staying in Washington for the rest of my life.  I grew up with the skill of starting my life over again whenever I needed to.  I grew up with no attachments, no roots.

When someone asks where I am from, my answer is the entire list of places I’ve lived.  I don’t have a hometown.  I don’t have just one place where I can look back and say, “Yep, that’s where I grew up.”

Moving has been both a blessing and a curse.

Truthfully, I never thought that I would stay in Los Angeles for as long as I have.  This is the one place that has been the exception to the pattern of my life.  Seven years later, and I’m still not tired of this place.  Sure, I’m bored with it on occassion, but that can be cured by a long drive out of town.  There are still streets here that I have not been down.  Neighborhoods that I haven’t got lost in.  Places left to see.

Seven years, and this move will commit me to more.  I don’t know if I’m ready for that.  What if, after law school, I find that my life is leading me to another far away place, another place to start over?  Will I be afraid to take the risk because of this new committment?  Or have I finally found the place where I can call ‘home’?

She’s Afraid

She knows it’s a mistake, the direction she’s facing.  She may not know exactly what will happen, but she knows it’s a dead-end.

She lies to herself.

She hears the warnings, sees the signs.  But she’s fighting against them, against herself – the perpetual struggle between emotion and rationale (and she questions why the two always seem to be in conflict).

Will this break her?  Or worse, will it destroy her?

The draw of the dangerous gained power this time around.  And part of her doesn’t want to go the safe route.  She’s afraid of the choice she has to make and afraid of the person she may become.

& —- //

she walks through the door
with life on her shoulders
and great expectations weighing her down
she’s suppose to smile

she didn’t know what things
were like outside her peripheal vision
and she closed her eyes
to the world beyond her window

she doesn’t want to admit that
she is a fragment of perfection
because she didn’t want to
disappoint [you] when she falls down