I’m sitting in the city park near where my daughter is doing her outdoor aikido (jo/staff training), listening to the birds celebrate the fact that we might reach mid-80°F weather around here today. Or maybe they are just chatterboxes.
The sound of the freeway make it over the barrier they constructed nearby to mask such noises, but it doesn’t bother me… City of just a different kind of nature than the kind you find away from the city, but it’s still nature and it’s nice to be out of the house, away from the house and the inherent responsibilities, just sitting and writing and listening and feeling.
I’ve been doing a lot of intensive spirit work the past month or so and my inner guide told me it was time for a break from the intensity. So I’m largely just sitting here, taking it in, letting the world wash over me. Following orders.
For some reason, this very moment is being visited by memories of a similar park on the other side of the Mississippi from where I am. A world away, and yet probably only three miles by bird. If that.
Near that park used to be a place that sold craft yarn and weaving looms. It may still, but it’s been thirty years, so it seems unlikely. I used to visit the stores nearby, my own international village when I was young, and more often then not, is stop by that store as well, even though I haven’t ever had the skill or training to take up yarn crafts. Still, I’d stop by, look at the looms and tell myself I really should learn how to weave one day. Why? I was never able to articulate the why. It was just one of those things.
And today, as I hear the distant clacks of wood on wood as parry and blocks are being trained, I’m drawn into that memory. It was always money that stopped me; now it’s time. And cats.
And up from that park, the kind that seemed to have this kind of day always attached to it, were other stores, most of which are long gone. A place that was the authentic international bazaar that Pier One always wished it could be, with incense, brass, coin belts, carved soapstone, carved obsidian, middle eastern scarves, stone buddhas…
Follow the street, and there was a vegan place before it got popular to be vegan, a New Age store that didn’t much act like a New Age store, but carried everything from ben wa balls to organic cotton futons before organic was a real thing. They had the best myrrh oil, I can’t find anything like it anymore, sweet, dark and sinful.
Also, on that strip of street, there was a pagan bookstore, one that was equal parts a goddess-send and a pit of frustration. I picked up a used hard copy of Salinger’s Nine Stories there.
There were theaters with all kinds of edgy plays, one of which was focused on non-caucasian productions called The Mixed Blood Theater. Another one, I saw a one man show based on Diary of a Madman performed by a man who was born with a stunted left arm, but you didn’t realize it until you paid attention.
There were winos and hippies and bums and punks and dirtballs… There were students and business people who seemed bothered by the whole humanity of the scene.
There was an all night cafe where some residents always seemed to be in attendence. And there were street acts and buskers of all types.
Or was organic and profane and beautiful and anarchy. And nature.
All of it just a few short blocks away from a park just like this one I sit in and remember the past in.