Forgive the fact the last two posts were slightly longer than haikus. I returned to Los Angeles to see not much had changed since my absence. The weather was slightly odd. I can’t remember ever needing to wear a sweater in the daytime in the month of May, but even my ego is not grand enough to think my presence can affect weather patterns. Lives continue to be lived and traffic lights continue to shift from green to yellow to red.
I managed to get a few hours of sleep on various friends’ couches, but for the most part was in a constant state of motion. Much of the time was spent in the mountains that I missed so much. I returned to the greatest hike in Southern California, the Bridge To Nowhere. A fifty mile drive from Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains. It’s secluded enough to make you think you’re deep in nature. You follow a shallow river which you’re forced to cross in thigh high rapids four or five times. Along the way you catch prospectors searching for gold before you reach a majestic bridge to a failed highway which now serves as a bungee jumper destination. But feeling that cold river I had to question why I have still never spent an extended time in nature. Sure I like to eat out, but there isn’t that much more that these city folk have to offer.
Well, I do enjoy the company of people. Not just friends, but also strangers. Observing the strange along with the peculiar is something you lose in the wild. There if you come across a stranger, you must talk to them and not just observe them from a safe distance as you can in the city. At the airport I almost missed my flight as a fifty year old man with a Bluetooth called everyone in his Rolodex to update them on his life. I stared at him and he stared back at me as he continued to recount the story of the lawyer he met who hopefully, God willing, will go on a second date with him. My nosiness almost got me in trouble as I heard my name on the loudspeaker. I missed my boarding and was allowed on the plane at the last possible second.
It would have been a shame if I missed it. My main reason to go back to Los Angeles was to attend the Los Angeles City Swim Finals to watch the kids I coached the past three years at Hollywood High School compete. The morning of the meet rain fell hard and the gray skies would not lift the temperature above sixty degrees. Fortunately by two in the afternoon the Gods made the weather more appeasable for swimming. It was still chilly, but with the sun out it was bearable. In the first race I saw a student who when I last saw her was eight months pregnant and now only five months after giving birth was back in the water competing at the city’s highest level. I was also glad to see a couple of my graduating swimmers were now assisting with the team. One of these graduates who was twenty years old brought a smile to my face as she complained about how undisciplined kids these days were. I had to remind her of the various mutinies her classmates pulled and make a mental note that if I ever teach again not to join the chorus in the teacher’s lounge about how much more respectful my generation was from this one.
My old colleague, Russian swim maestro, Coach Vlad, put this in perspective. “I have new girlfriend.” He told me. “She good. She younger. Fifty years. But in few years she just as old as wife and just as crazy.”