The Only Place I Could Live Is Here1
June 21, 2020 by The Citron Review
by Christina Simon
Los Angeles is a place I will never leave, can never leave. My hometown, this metropolis of four million people, holds me close as it whispers its darkest secrets and happiest thoughts. Los Angeles has great music, but no single, pulsing beat. Here, a Black police officer, responding to a noise complaint of loud music at the Cuban American Music Festival, took a lady’s hand and salsa danced his way to viral fame, fast, fast, slow, the two unlikely partners twirled and spun, his gun phallic in its holster, creating their own noise when onlookers cheered. Here, the hip-hop station 93.5 KDAY-FM goes fuzzy in the suburban Valley, but conservative talk radio blares anytime, anyplace. Here, Sly Stone remade Doris Day’s prim version of “Que Sera Sera” and lit up my soul. Here, rapper Nipsey Hussle died too young. Here, frustration exploded when tourists trying to get to the Hollywood Sign caused the city to close off entire neighborhoods. Here, my friend tells me her husband has an idea for a high-wire lift to transport people to the Hollywood Sign, a “unicorn” startup, she says. Here, as a kid in Venice, my mom would take my sister and me for walks along the boardwalk when she wore her hair in an afro because it was the 1970s and Black men would greet her with “Hey sista” and she’d nod, affirming the “Black is Beautiful” slogan of the Civil Rights Movement. Here, she ignored the elderly white ladies sitting on benches, who made a “Tsk, tsk, tsk” sound followed by a single word in Yiddish, schwartze, a derogatory word for Blacks, signaling their hatred for my Black mom and her mixed-race daughters. Here, palm trees, lush and emerald green, refuse to discriminate, decorating the streets in both Compton and Bel Air. Here, wealthy parents are desperate to get their kids into “Blue Ivy’s School,” where her mom, Beyoncé, performed. Here, there’s an alarming new trend: hit and runs, cars vs. pedestrians. Here, on the news, the violent moment when a Mini Cooper smashed into a homeless man, scattering his belongings, leaving him near-dead in the street. Here, a few days later, a public school teacher was arrested for the crime in trendy Silverlake. Here, I toured animal shelters until I found the best pit bull ever, one who gives all pit bulls a good name. Here, chickens owned by rich hippies live in handmade backyard coops with chandeliers and air conditioning. Here, chickens are better off than the humans who stand in line for hours at food pantries to get fresh eggs. Here, my Caucasian husband with his dark hair and blue eyes, can walk with his arm around me, my skin darker than his by many shades. Here, our son, who has my skin color and his dad’s blue eyes, walks alongside his pale-skinned, curly haired sister. Here, we are just another family.
Christina Simon is the “Letter to L.A.” editor for Angels Flight Literary West. Her essays have been featured in Salon, The Offing, Columbia Journal (winner of the 2020 Black History Month Contest for Nonfiction), PANK Magazine’s Health and Healing Folio, Another Chicago Magazine, Proximity’s blog, True, Entropy and Barren Magazine. Christina received her BA from U.C. Berkeley and her MA from UCLA. She volunteers with 826LA where she helps kids write their college essays. www.csimonla.com
Christina, I was enthralled as I read “The only Place I Could Live Is Here”. I enjoy your writing so very much! See you at the Zoom meeting July 7. Have enjoyed reading Rodham. Maxine