Originally uploaded by mamazilla1972.
...from southern california, specifically a remote hilly village called "los angeles".
i had never been to southern california. i had been taught the history of the area in school but, i realized that there was so much about california culture and history that i didn't know about. for example, i was never told about... *chokes back tears* ...the suntan problem.
the first time i visited los angeles, i accompanied the humanitarian group called "SHADE". we were there to distribute sunscreen, new and gently used sunglasses, wide brimmed straw hats, long sleeve shirts and long pants.
from the moment we stepped off the plane, it was clear that we were "the other" and we were under surveilance. there were cameras EVERYWHERE. for some reason, they were especially focused on those of us with sunglasses and baseball caps. even at a local coffee shop, people ran us down in an effort to get away from the all seeing eye of big brother. i was so afraid.
this is a village so poor that the residents don't have enough money to purchase sunscreen. honestly, i don't think they even know what it is. men, women and children do just about anything and everything in direct sunlight. they don't realize they don't have to look and smell like a pan fried sausage link.i happened to bring a small bottle of sunscreen for myself and they shied away from the foreign smelly liquid. after a slow and gentle application, they got over their initial inhibitions and started applying it to each other and me. such beautiful people!
the los angeles environment is treacherous - frequently ravaged by earthquakes, wildfires and mudslides. the atmosphere is toxic. the roads are impassable. it took hours for us to get from point a to point b, even though people told us it would take 20 minutes. it's easy to see how these people barely eek out an existence. they simply cannot get the basic tools they need to defend themselves from the sun. a woman told me a story about when she had gotten so overly suntanned that when she walked, it sounded like she was wearing corduroy pants. but she had an appointment that she could not cancel. she got into her car and threw down the visor so hard that it broke off and now... now, she has severe cataracts and her skin is.... is peeling. luckily, the appointment was actually an audition for a voiceover and she was hired! stories like hers changed me forever. these people are my heroes. i do have one fond memory of the los angeles roads. whenever we were stuck in traffic, some of the natives would rush to our car to offer us oranges, flowers, cherries and peanuts. of course, we couldn't accept these gifts, but it just reminded us of how generous these people were. and that these people were not victims!
after i adopt a child from los angeles, i'll probably buy a small place there. and then, i'll focus on funding for los angeles schools. i couldn't believe how poorly educated some of the people were. i asked some of them if they'd ever been outside los angeles to manhattan or venice perhaps. although they nodded in the affirmative, they kept pointing west, towards the pacific.
anyway, when we're there we'll learn spanish together and we'll learn all about scientology. s/he'll spend a lot of time in the churches with the ministers, etc, etc... and of course, we'll have fun watching all the nifty helicopters.
back home in chicago, my child will know a world without tans, a city bordered by land on the west and water on the east, and a change of seasons, where you can never be too poor or too fat, where you can wear gym shoes outside of the gym and where we find uses for ALL of the cow.