I’ve lived in Hollywood for about a month now and while I love the hell out of it (which is hard to love the hell out of a city so hell bent on destroying itself) I left my heart in downtown LA. I spend my days writing in my Hollywood apartment, but my afternoons are spent in Pico Union tutoring kids who barely speak English. Everytime I get to this area I feel at home. Maybe it’s because it looks like Tijuana and brings me back to my childhood, but mostly I think it is because of the beautiful people who live here.
In the time I’ve lived in Hollywood, I have never seen a child. Not walking. Not when I’m driving around. The schools are few and far between. Neighbors don’t really exist. They’re just those assholes who park their cars too close to yours and stomp on the floors above you. But as soon as I get to Pico Union this all changes. Ice cream trucks troll the streets and children walk around holding hands with their parents and playing with their friends. I have yet to come upon a front door that is locked. Everything is open because it is a neighborhood complete with loving families who all know each other.
When I’m in my apartment, we complain because there isn’t enough room to fit a drum set, a bowflex and a kitchen table (which we would never eat at any way). Then I go to these kids duplexes. Occasional cockaroaches scale the walls, porcelein tweety bird piggy banks and ornate altars to the Virgen Mary serve as decorations. Two children sleep in the living room, the parents share a room with their baby, and they have another on the way. My friends and I tell each other “we could never share a room. We’d kill each other.” But these kids, who share 8×8 rooms, one of them sleeping on a couch, can’t wait to get home and play with each other. They help each other with their homework. They listen to what their parent’s tell them to do. They appreciate that someone is willing to help them learn, and they are eager to improve.
In short, these areas, which many people avoid for whatever reason are where real humanity exist. Not in Hollywood, where Darwinism thrives and kids are kept out of sight. Humanity exists in places where seven people live in one house just to make ends meet. Where no one on the block owns a car over $5000. Every night in my apartment off Sunset Boulevard, where people all over America dream of living someday, I fall asleep to the sounds of sirens and wake up to homeless men sleeping leaned up against my car. In Pico Union, a place where no one has ever dreamed of living, I have never heard a siren and have rarely seen a police car. I have never seen a homeless person either.
I love where I live and never take it for granted. I often feel like I’m the luckiest girl in the whole world, but there’s something about the old, dingy, grungy, undesirable area of downtown know as Pico Union, that always pulls at my heart and makes me feel like I’m home.