Marty Romero

Mid-pandemic L.A. trip

I am in L.A. for the fourth time since we moved to Washington almost five years ago. That almost averages out to one visit a year. A lot has changed if you pay attention, but at the same time it feels so familiar as though we never left.

After settling mom into the AirBnB where we’re staying, I stood in the doorway listening to the sounds of the neighborhood. I could hear the hum and rumble of the tires from cars speeding by on the freeway only half a mile away. There is music blaring from a speaker that is loud enough to be heard from blocks away, but not loud enough to make out the song (althogh, the polka pattern tells me that it’s a Mexican norteña or a Banda classic). Across the street from where we’re staying three Mexican ladies are talking over each other in a loud voice. They are not arguing, that’s just how Mexican ladies gossip. There are kids laughing and chasing each other in the yard, and their laughter gets briefly interrupted by the chopping sound of a helcopter overhead.

It’s already late in the afternoon and the sun is setting over the downtown skyline. In the east side (where I am staying) only the deep orange rays of the sun are left to warm the evening, but they fail miserably because night is almost here. Its beginning to smell like carne asada from all the street taco carts and food trucks setting up for business. They don’t seem to be phased by the pandemic at all.

I love east L.A. It still feels like home in so many ways, but at the same time I hate almost everything about it. I hate having to drive back and forth on the same two blocks until someone leaves in order to take their parking spot. I hate the traffic, and more than the traffic, I hate that drivers don’t stop to ask if everything is ok when you’re stopped with your hazard lights on. They block intersections and cut you off. And if you use your turn signals to change lanes, they speed up to block you instead of slowing down and let you in. I hate how dense the city is. You get use to it, but you are always somewhere. In L.A. you can’t ever be in the middle of nowhere, and to an introvert sometimes nowhere is a healing place.

When I wrote this, I was listening to this song

In fifth grade (before I even understood English) this was my favorite song. The song came in the radio on my drive to the AirBnB where we are staying. Hearing it just added to the nostalgia I was already feeling.

Jose Romero