- Dancing Days
Los Angeles, Walking, Streetscape, Urban
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South Cochran Avenue. On a Saturday morning in November, I walk my way into the detritus of Friday night. Two pair of women's sandals—strappy, red, and open-toed—on the strip between curb and sidewalk, in the shadow of a neighborhood church. I like this church, the rounded dome of its bell tower. I walk past it every chance I get. It is like a portal into something, a bridge between landscapes; I feel the atmosphere change when I turn the corner where it stands at Cochran and continue east on Packard, as if air had shifted in a tire. This, I should add, has nothing to do with the community but rather with the machine inside me, which notches up a gear as I pass this point. I am fifteen minutes from home, a mile into today's loop—one of several I take to keep from slipping into inertia, boredom—and it is always here, on this gentle upslope, that I feel my chest open and my breath expand. I give myself, in other words, to the movement, as if I have slipped beyond the initial steps of the dance. Those shoes: They remind me of dancing also, although maybe more the last steps than the first. Perhaps the owners (friends? lovers? siblings? rivals?) stripped them off at the end of a long evening, blisters rising on their heels like fever spots. Perhaps they are left over from a street sale, the only items no one bought. It's tempting to read into their arrangement, symmetrical and ordered, as if the expression is a conscious display of some kind. Or is it just the order of disorder? And yet, display of what? I leave the question behind. [End Page 15]
David L. Ulin is the author or editor of several books, including The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time (Sasquatch, 2018); Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles (California, 2015), which was shortlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay; and Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology (Library of America, 2002), which won a California Book Award. He was a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015, and teaches at the University of Southern California.