Sunday, August 11, 2013

In an attempt to retain a feeling of gratitude while combating feelings of violation [is that a feeling? I suppose so], frustration, and hopelessness, I went to Sunset Nursery today while on a break from filing a police report and looking in every neighborhood bike shop for my stolen bicycle, Banch. After spending a small bit of my summer in Kentucky, I decided I wanted to really grow things at my house this year so I can have herbs for herbal infusions and vegetables for my salads. I can't grow much in my tiny front yard, but I knew I wanted at least two kinds of mint, catnip, lemon balm, lavender, thyme, green onions, jalapeños, and kumquats. I wasn't sure how to go about any of this, but I knew I could find someone to advise me. At the nursery, someone very, very kind helped me pick out two wooden planter boxes for my herbs and onions. He instructed me to plant my jalapeño plant in a pot deep enough to allow for the plant's roots to grow. He even found me a kumquat tree and a grey clay planter to put it in. He told me how to fertilize everything. Recommended that I buy the jalapeño plant now as opposed to attempting to grow my own plant from seed at this time of year. I also bought my two types of mint and my catnip already planted. Everything else I bought as seeds.
This is my tiny yard. 
Found these chairs on the side of Sunset Blvd last year at a gas station for $50.
Something about walking around the nursery instantly calmed me. Even though I knew I was about to spend money I don't have. Even though Banch is still gone and I'll probably never get him back. Even though today is the day that it is. I felt safe surrounded by all those plants and all those people who love and care for all those plants. And the man helping me was so calm and nice and explained everything in such a helpful way that I felt momentarily like I had some control over my environment and situation. And I thought how grateful I am that people like this man exist. That I can be having the worst week and walk into a gardening store and with the help of a stranger, walk out with a means to grow food for myself.

When I got home, I immediately set up my two beds. One with the mints and the catnip. One with just seeds of thyme, lemon balm, lavender, and green onions. I planted my kumquat tree. And my jalapeño plant, which already has two tiny, beautiful green peppers on it. I also rescued the succulents I'd abandoned when I left LA for the summer in June. Some of them were beyond saving, having sat in the California sun without water or attention for almost two months. But they're strong little guys and I spread the remaining ones out over several planters so they can have a chance to grow roots before I transplant them to make tiny succulent gardens.

The man at the nursery even made me a hose. I couldn't afford $70 for a real one, so he took some tubing and made me a custom one that is just the right length for my little yard, and for only $6. He felt bad about my stolen bike, which came up in a conversation about the general vibe, safety, and mood of our neighborhood.

After I planted my garden and after I watered everyone, I headed out again to find Banch, or maybe a replacement for Banch, as sad as that makes me and as financially impossible as that is at this moment. I ended up in a great shop not too far from me, which is definitely where I'll buy a new bike when I can, because they were so patient and helpful. Also, Robin Williams was there. He was so sweet. When he was blocking our way to a bike I wanted to see, he apologized quite genuinely before stepping out of the way. I love him. I have always loved him. Something about his eyes. They make me feel comfortable. I wanted to ask him if I could just look at his eyes for a little bit, but I didn't want to bother someone who was just out trying to buy a bike, like me.

Most of the people I met in bike shops today were really helpful. They gave me tips for finding my bike and tips for future security. They offered to keep my info and call me if someone tries to sell Banch to them. I love going to specialty stores all in one neighborhood, because everyone in each place is passionate about the same thing, and it feels like a community. Today I got to see the gardening community and the cycling community in my neighborhood. And my anger toward this place immediately vanished. Because so many people in this city are just doing what they know how to do to survive. I mean, maybe not all parts of the city, but at least in my part of the city where the community is real. Last night, I was so frustrated with and infuriated by a place that I've given so much of my time and energy to as a neighbor and community member and volunteer. But I won't let one desperate person ruin my sense of home that I felt from the second I moved here. Because then that person gets more than just my bike. And they probably only wanted my bike in the first place. You can't sell disappointment, after all.

After wolfing down a salad, I drove [grumpily because I'd planned on biking] up to Griffith Park to see The National play at the Greek Theater. At first I thought, ok, they're good live, but not mind blowing. But then they kept doing things. Weird things with the horn section. Or Matt Berninger would scream a particular lyric in a way that changed it drastically. At one point during the encore, he came out INTO the audience. Twice. Walked all the way through section A. So many times on stage, he sang to individual people in the front. Held hands with them as he walked from stage left to stage right. Nothing better than a musician who gives a fuck about his fans. Or is at least able to act like he does.
Even though they played mostly the new album, they still played things off of Alligator and Boxer and High Violet. I cried during "Bloodbuzz Ohio." I cried during "Terrible Love." I cried during "England" when he sang put an ocean and a river between everything, yourself, and home. Somehow The National is that one band that's been there for me at the most important times in my life. In 2007, my brother gave me Boxer for Christmas. I once thought I could maybe love this certain stranger who had invented a beginning for us using lyrics from "Daughters of the SoHo Riots." I once sat on the floor of 6 peso pizza in Buenos Aires, my first time traveling alone, waiting 2 hours for a pizza that cost the equivalent of one dollar and eighty US cents. And this summer, I drove all over the goddamn country disputing The National's lyrics in my head. Tunnel vision lights my way. It does. It doesn't. It does. It doesn't. I spent so much time in salt, I took a bottle home with me to remind me of everything I ever do wrong. Or everything you ever do wrong. I should live in salt for leaving you behind means something different to me than the actual words imply.

But maybe the most beautiful part of the night was when everyone unplugged their instruments and played an acoustic "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks." Matt made all of us sing all of the lyrics. The Greek Theater full of heart break and hope. Another community I've found, here, in Los Angeles, my home. And these words, at least, I will never debate. For me, they will always be true.

All the very best of us/string ourselves up for love.

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