End of Sidewalk and Scars in Dirt

This is OK

“I feel scared” I said last night to an acquaintance. I backed up to allow a wider gap between us, as I wasn’t wearing my N95 mask I’d had on earlier. The person nodded in understanding. “I’ve seen news reports of an uptick in Covid cases” they said reassuringly.

After I was safely back in my apartment I thought of how extraordinary this exchange was. Los Angeles has always been a place where bravado, exaggerated importance and nepotism skip, hand in hand; from Santa Monica, to Century City, to Burbank. The slight inattention of your companion is from them listening for their phone to ring with that Big Offer. Fear, and upcoming rent due, aren’t mentioned. Yet, I’d just broken this rule, and was met with understanding-?

Events have proven, the Before Times are as sharply delineated from present-day as was once noted about spaces between 9/11 and “now.” Unspoken was knowledge we wouldn’t go back to that state. So, is it a thing now, that people can confess unedited emotions? In a place insisting on perfection, is it, finally, OK to be broken?

I used to own a copy of Shel Silverstein’s book “Where the Sidewalk Ends.” Oh, I loved it – and him. Famous Poets and Poems site quotes the titular poem here. An excerpt:

…Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends…

Shel Silverstein

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