It is another Finding the Magic morning, for me. When I played Dirty Paws for my mom, a few days ago, she asked where Of Monsters and Men were from. I did not know, but I looked it up then.
For anyone else who may not know, they are from Iceland
Like Sigur Ros
The first time I went up to Alaska to work on a salmon seiner, when I was 17
I pretty much listened to nothing but Sigur Ros –
At the time, Alaska felt too otherworldly to me for anything else…to fit.
In places like Alaska, and perhaps like Iceland (though I’ve never been there!)
Finding the magic in the world takes less work.
Open your door, most places
and there it is
everywhere you look
Towering peaks so jagged they look young, newly made
but they are ancient
Whole rocks peopled by too many bald eagles to count
Whole bays dotted with gently bobbing sea otters, babies or clams perched atop their floating bellies
We’d wake up at 3:30 am
I’d go out on the deck of the boat, groggy, with a cigarette and a cup of black coffee (to feel more like a Fisherman, of course!)
and I’d be greeted by killer whales, herding salmon
Or grey whales, in all their glorious bulk
I didn’t mind how early it was. Just…forgot to be annoyed by it.
One time, we had to stop fishing in this bay we were in
for a grey whale had been seen entering
and, though we hadn’t seen it leave
it had disappeared
How do you LOSE a fucking grey whale?!
It was surprising, and New- always, in Alaska
People had pet reindeer
There were, strangely;
entire hordes of terrifyingly tough and dangerous looking
Dunno why. But I saw several whole streets, within several towns
positively overrun with the ornery, scarred, and one-eyed little bastards (I gave them a pretty wide berth!)
And then, there was the aurora borealis
For which, when seen in person
there are simply no words
and I shall not try.
There are old, hidden canneries and military installations
with decades of names and graffiti within them
just…decaying, but alive with magic
But I think there must be a way for humans
to not just survive, but to thrive
anywhere, and everywhere
And we cannot all live in such places.
Cities like Los Angeles, and towns like Redding
well, they also have magic within them
It’s just a more subtle kind of magic
Takes a little more effort to sniff out
But once I began looking
it became easier to find
I always hated Redding, growing up
Left as soon as I could, and never even considered the possibility that I’d come back
But, once I was able to begin living and breathing the magic
in a place like Los Angeles
Well, now- now, I’ve started seeing it everywhere I go
Los Angeles is a tough cookie!
From one angle, it is dirty
Hugely populated, yet with people who, by default and on average- tend to isolate themselves
even when out in the city
It is a city of Cars
And of visible lines between the Wealthy and the Not Wealthy
But in Los Angeles
there are mysterious looking brick power stations
there are secret stairways winding up the sides of hills, from which one can sit and look out over so much life, so much activity – the city breathes, even at night
there are little bubbles wherein we can travel to little bits of other countries, for a moment or two
and in Los Angeles
there are people.
I met so many interesting people, taking the buses around to different parts of the city
Fascinating people, even just walking around.
I have met sad celebrities
and wildly insightful homeless people
poetic gangsters, and philosophical murderers
I had an incredibly fascinating conversation once, with a government employee who had asked for a cigarette outside the court buildings downtown. We only talked for a few minutes, but we talked about human nature, and Dan Carlin, and politics, and it was wonderful.
Even police officers
are people, too
I learned, thought that one took a while and was a very grudging admission on my part, initially
I have left my car running going into stores, when my kitten Sisi was in the car
and it was fine
because Redding is a Small Town
and that is part of the magic, here
People say hello to each other!
I can smile, wave, or strike up a conversation with passersby
Without people worrying that I need something
or am otherwise trying to Bother them
And, because this is not LA
there are tunnels everywhere
under train tracks
and abandoned mining tunnels wending through the sides of hills
just…there to be explored! Not even fenced off, in most places
There are families of turkeys, geese, and deer
So many walking trails, mountains and lakes
There was always magic in this town.
I just did not know how to look for it when I was growing up.