O. Goller. In 2021 with the HOPES

(previous part)

Two days left before the New and so long-awaited New-Years. The spirit of festivities is here, but there’s something different about it this year. But then again, everything is different this year.

I remember the famous Russian parable: It’s not easy to live in this world. However, we are given the great opportunity to travel from winter to spring, from spring to warm summer, and from its green meadows to Pushkin’s gilded station of the brooding Lady-Autumn. And this trip is given to us completely free of charge. It’s up to us to cherish this generous gift or to miss it.

In this period of my life, the path slowed down and stopped by the fortune arrow of fate in the City of Angeles. The weather here is always clear, which is not that foreign to me, I live in Israel after all. But there is still something “not mine” in the air. Every morning I go for a walk along the long streets of West LA.

A series of houses, one absolutely different from another. The impression is that every 100 meters you pass from the era of the 60’s to the two thousand’s; then again you find yourself in the shadow of a colonial style wooden house, and at the crossroads you will find the typical modern style house, with the monograms of an unknown period. It makes my walks a lot of fun.

Houses

People don’t walk by the streets as we are used to. There’s even a song called “No One is Walking in LA”. You do see some runners, cyclists and dogs walking outside with their owners. People and dogs are friendly and smiling (the people at least), which you can only tell by their eyes. Times have definitely changed, It seems that dog-owners are the ones wearing muzzles now.

I can’t quite pin-point it, but the breath of the city and the people are just somewhere on a parallel wave. It seemed that this shouldn’t surprise me, but the feeling is still alien to me. Only in small playground parks there’s some life. Young masked parents with their kids, laughter, and what seems to be a revival of the skate and scooters era. I remember myself and my children, how we used to skated in “Park-Leumi” in Ramat Gan 25 years ago.

The brilliant sun of the day is deceiving. The early evening streets are a sobering experience. The city gets dark very early, at five in the evening it’s almost night, and it gets very cold. And then… oh my God! A different and greatly weird population of the city appears on the sidewalks and parks… Like zombis crawling out of the urban woods. I had already seen these strange faces, and the pungent smell of marijuana was already choking me in back then in San Francisco. It’s so difficult and sad to accept the fact that people are falling to this unimaginable level of social life. The homeless in LA have reached an all time high; both literally and figuratively. It’s truly a site to be witnessed. I grew up in the Soviet Union of the 60’s, yet I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like this. It puts fine point on the Crowned Demon of 2020.

It makes me remember all my loved ones,  in Israel, in Moscow, and I just want to pray for all people.

Masks

Yesterday it was this year’s first rain. It poured and poured from the endlessly grey sky, I wanted to sleep, get under the blanket, maybe watch some movie from my childhood…

Today the weather has returned to its clear consciousness. I went for a walk. Not to get lost, I walked straight along only one street. The same unusual and completely devoid of any style of houses and gardens landscape followed parallel to my steps for about half an hour. A street without people, like in a movie, a sudden gust of wind blew over my jacket’s collar.

Suddenly I came to a large fountain at a courthouse of a white building with huge glass windows. When I looked up I discovered that it was one of four buildings all symmetrically surrounding a beautiful park. The fountain was squared in the middle, with water channels flowing from one fountain to another.

White buildings with channels

The buildings are very large, resembling a European style congress hall. It was very unexpected to see these buildings on the same street with the relatively simple  and small style houses along which I walked.

Simple houses

Further the path led me to a large green lawn, about a hundred square-meters.

Chairs were carefully placed on it all around the perimeter, 6-feet apart.

Green grass

I went into one of the white buildings. People were sitting in the study rooms and working on the comps. In the midst of this sterile realm of incomprehensible reality, it was very joyful to see people living and working in public spaces.

There was a ten-meter-high Christmas tree in the front hall.

Christmas tree

In the center of the hall there was a Menorah for Chanukah on a pedestal. I was surprised to see both the Christmas tree and the menorah in the same hall, but then I remembered that in America, this is completely normal.

Chanukija

I went out to the park again. The incredible desolation, blown by a strong wind, disturbed the soul. Who built these beautiful houses, who cut these trees in the garden and who decorated the Christmas tree with the green glass ornaments, not forgetting to put a Jewish seven-branched candlestick next to it?

What is this? Stills from the movie of the future? A dream that has not been dispelled since March of 2020? Some kind of surrealism from an unknown reality…

And at the same time – the feeling of a bright expectation of something very large that will bring us the light.

Red car

Olga Goller

Original in Russian here

Published 13/01/2020  18:41

Updated 14/01/2021 19:46