Went to a screening last night with a friend who lives in Hollywood. Went to my friend’s house first and, par for Hollywood, ended up parking a few blocks away from her home. Walking back to my car at the end of the evening, I heard some sweet tunes outside the 7-11. I don’t know what song or what singer. It wasn’t too loud, but it was perfect for a fine evening. Looking over, I could see the silhouette of a man and a bike in the light of the store window. He had a couple of bags, but not an overwhelming amount. Could have been shopping for a few things. Or maybe homeless.
It’s a weird thing. Living here, any pedestrian or biker, you automatically clock: homeless or not homeless. I read something the other day that said over one-third of the nation’s homeless live in California. Don’t see many homeless folks in your state? That’s because they’re here.
As I stood at the street corner waiting for the light to change, the music got closer, and I looked to see it was coming from the man on the bike. His bike had green lights strung around the front wheel. So he had lights and sound. Older guy. Black. Wearing a hat. Styling.
We gave each other the look-see. Me, because it’s night, and I’m not in the normal protection of my car and not everyone is safe. Him, probably just because I was looking at him. I’m guessing I looked safe to him. And I decided he looked safe to me.
“I like your wheel lights,” I said.
He nodded thanks.
I was thinking I liked the music too. I would’ve liked to know who was singing. But didn’t want to go overboard. Too friendly with strangers is weird.
The light changed. I walked, and he rode. “Have a nice evening,” he called as he passed by me. I nodded my thanks.
After that intersection, on a side street, I looked across and saw three tents. Next to one of the tents, a figure on a little patch of grass, feet crossed, looking up at the sky. It was dark. I couldn’t really see, but just his posture looked happy. Like he could have been camping in the country and thinking it was a fine night for laying outside his tent.
Usually my reaction to tent enclaves is more anxious. I project a lot of my own worries and pity onto people. I assume they must be miserable and I can’t, in the moment, do anything about it.
Last night, though, as I walked to my car, with traffic cones and production cars on one side of the street, the tent encampment on the other, the green glowing bike gliding by on the quiet street, the whole thing felt oddly peaceful.
I was grateful for the moment of having things feel that way.