Wednesday, March 18, 2009

All of the time in the world to play on the swing

Back by popular demand: my daughter Leyla, in this instance being propelled on a swing at Venice Beach by her mommy.

I am just starting to really familiarize myself with the greater Los Angeles area, over the course of a long working vacation. After many shorter visits over the years, mostly concentrated in Hollywood and Downtown, I am finally getting a chance to roam and go local, a little bit.

This means two important things to me. One is getting the lay of the land that a local has, a sense of what streets lead where and how long it will take to get from here to there and what alternate routes might work. Knowing the land, that is, not just the map or a set of directions.

The other is beginning to experience the flow of time as a local experiences it. The traveler, or at least this traveler, is always fraught with urgency. Got to see, got to do, got to be, because I won't get to be here for very long, and when I am gone, I am gone.

The local, on the other hand, has literally all of the time in the world to be here, because this is the part of the world where he experiences time.

I remember making this experiential transition as a chronic visitor to New York, before I moved to the city. There actually was a time when I would stare in amazement at people doing things like playing frisbee in the park. I would actually think, "You can play frisbee anywhere! You are in New York City! Go to the Met! Go to Coney Island! Go do something you can only do in New York!"

Of course, when you live in New York, everything you do is done in New York, so it is silly to always do only the things you can do in New York. Actually, it's impossible, since life involves so many mundane functions one must do, wherever one finds oneself at the moment.

All of this crossed my mind the other day on Venice Beach, when we took a break from scruffy people watching (of a sort that can only be done there) and playing in the surf (which one can only do on the coast) to pushing Leyla on a swing. Which you can do just about everywhere.

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