Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I wrote this before my birthday post, but am just getting around to finishing it now.

Baltimore.

Back in Baltimore at my old Starbucks. How many hours did I spend here writing, talking, getting to know the people and families of the workers and regulars. Or, sitting here working on the show bible from "The Wire," my first time having taken on such a task of documenting the characters, story lines, locations, and every single thing of an entire season of a TV show. Checking again and again, wanting to get it right. I hadn't been here ten minutes when I was asked for my number by a would-be suitor. I politely declined. Sorry, Sam.

I'm here while my mom takes her water aerobics class in the pool that Michael Phelps trained in and from what Sam told me, now owns. It was also used to have an ice rink, which is where this hilarity occured. Last time I was here, I frolicked in the huge jacuzzi while mom took her class in the small pool. When she was finished, I went with her and her classmates to the locker room and a flood of memories of being a competitive swimmer came back. Teenage girls built like Amazonian water goddesses walked about, changing from high school clothes into racing suits. When I was getting dressed, one of them, who had to be almost six feet tall, exited a bathroom stall, naked and completely at ease as if she were fully clothed. As she washed her hands, across the mirror, wearing only what she came into this world with, it reminded me when I used to do the same thing as a competitive swimmer, and the freedom of it. When you are in a sport, especially intensely over several years, your body is a tool that you are training, fine-tuning and preparing for battle. Thus, any inhibitions disappear. Seeing that girl breeze by me like that brought it all back. I'd forgotten some of those intricacies of the girl who lives inside my past, and it was good to remember them. And, her.

Unlike everyone else, I'm enjoying the humid weather here. I'm also hoping for a couple good thunderstorms. I even moved to an outside table so my body and hair can soak it in. It's been dry as a bone in California, and the wildfires are making it worse, filling the skies with smoke and ash. I took this photo of the sky, which doesn't do it justice. The sun was blood orange, and those are not clouds but smoke and ash. I'm sitting outside Last night, we had dinner at B, an awesome restaurant in my mom's neighborhood.

      

It's the next day, and after accompanying my mom to her church to meet the group that she volunteers with and the clients they serve, offering clothes, counseling, food and other services, I walked to the coffee shop in my mom's neighborhood. Sporadic big, fat raindrops plopped on my skin and slapped the sidewalk. I crossed paths with a woman walking her dog, and she said in African-American jubilance, "I love this rain, feels so good!" I shared her sentiments. Living in a state that's been in a drought for years, boy have I missed the rain. We've gotten some spates of it, but it's rain that's just passin' through. When I moved here, I wrote about the difference in the rain on the west coast and in a place like Baltimore, where rain has had practice being rain. I miss rain, and as it is also humid here, the walk was even more pleasant. Severe thunderstorms are in the forecast for later this afternoon. Oh, let's hope so. The lack of rain and real weather in California will be what eventually drives me away from there. As an artist, writer, and synesthete, there is nothing for me at least, that compares to the inspiration that rain, thunder and approaching storms can deliver. I've been here for nine years, on top of another eight when I lived here the first time. Though Los Angeles has been awesome for me and I've had experiences, access, privileges, and accomplished things professionally that I couldn't anywhere else, the rarity of rain, wonderfully puffy clouds, wind, and even overcast days is starting to matter more and more. The movement of nature instead of it being just a backdrop. When Los Angeles gets these things, it's gorgeous, but it's too few and far between.

As for those thunderstorms I was hoping for. I got them. One while still at my mom's place, and even more that kept my flight on the tarmac for two hours. American Airlines handled it well though, passing out free snacks for us and letting people walk around on the plane. The flight attendants kept people calm and the pilots did a great job keeping us informed and being honest with us about status of us actually getting to take off. I had another source, a high school classmate of mine who is now a meteorologist at