Friday, June 19, 2009

Random Access Memory

I am experiencing a wave of memory lately. I have been taking some longish walks in preparation for my big 20 mile walk to town. I walked for over 2 hours the other day and my mind really wanders in the process. I may have been approaching a hypoglycemic state but being a dedicated seeker of excitement I went with it. I had been walking for about an hour and forty five minutes, I was getting sweaty. I ran my hand into my t-shirt along my breast bone and I could feel the sweat. Suddenly, it was the early to mid-late-80s and I was back in LA in the basement of the Park Plaza Hotel at the MacArthur Park YMCA. I swam there with the old men from the neighborhood who never really seemed to get used to seeing a young, pale co-ed like myself in the pool. I also worked out there with a friend and looking back, I don't entirely remember the details of how this all transpired, but my friend Rebecca and I hooked up with a big black guy named Buddy who, offered to work us out. He was big enough that he could lift me up, his hands on my waist, to the chin-up bar where I would hang on, squirm a bit, pull myself up once and drop to the floor. My arms were always my weakest body part, pathetic for my size. Now in hindsight, who knows what weird fantasy we were fulfilling for this probable ex-con, 2 luscious redheads, but at the time it seemed innocent enough. He had a little routine he would run us through and when we would begin to sweat he would push us harder and proclaim " I see the holy water coming, there it is, the holy water". We began to refer to these work out sessions as "Buddy's Body Church". Time and memory are compressed and I have no idea how many of these sessions we actually had, but as this is my blog specifics need not enter into it. It was summer and we were under employed. My father was supporting me, I am not sure how Rebecca paid the rent on her small bungalow. When Buddy was nowhere to be found we would wander down 6th street in the relentless LA sun to Al's Diner at Rampart and eat a big breakfast, the obvious alternative to exercise. I think Buddy just dissappeared from the brethren of the Y and we got on with our studies when fall came.

I haven't thought about the past much for various reasons, too many other things on my mind, but walking around on these long pre-soltice evenings seems to open all these old pathways. I can see 6th street early in the morning as I walk past the tiny Guatamalan woman with her fleet of tiny children in tow, collecting cardboard, packing it on her back. Past Lim's Chinese Restaurant with it's grimy decor, I wonder where his small boys are now, 20 plus years later. Past the dank liquor store where I discovered the true difference between Sprite and 7-Up. Past long-armed Frankie, the ex-jockey who ran the parking lot behind the Park Plaza and gave us free Lucky Stikes to smoke and oaid for our specials at Lim's. This was my life. Car alarms going constantly and the whole scene sunbleached and barren, wide open as my future was in those days.

Walking these long north west county roads under the bright high overcast of June, my blood sugar lagging, I have been feeling that same open expanse of possibilty.

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