I’ve run into some .. lets call them characters, in my time here. The tall blonde cheerleader who hobbled into the room wearing her cheerleading gear. She sat on the bed and told me she had gone over on her ankle. Pretty doesn’t do her justice. She peeled down her sock to reveal a swastika tattoo on one of her ankles, while on the other was SS in the style of the nazis.. Why would you have that done at 18? I passed her onto a colleague.
I’ve been asked three times now if my family are Jewish. In all of my years at home, that has never came up in conversation. I’m not, I’m a catholic. My parents have no religion, well, mam was a Hindu back in India but doesn’t bother now. There seems to be a division here, those that are dead against Jews owning a business, the conspiracy theorists telling us that the Jews own the media, run the world etc. Then there are those that support Israel in their aggression with Palestine, a cause I cannot support.
I’m a bit dusky but have to class myself as “white”. A man came into the centre, having been referred by his doctor for a shoulder injury. He asked if I was Jewish. When I asked why, the man told me that he didn’t want any filthy Jew massaging his shoulder. He was also passed onto a colleague, and eventually sent away without treatment.
The racism bothers me quite a bit. Anna’s blog isn’t the place to go on about my own intolerances, but race isn’t one of them. I see and hear so much every day, less since moving here to LA. In Houston it was there, my was it there. I’d hear the n word every day, without fail. According to the figures, about 9% of people here are black, in Houston it was 23%. This has to be incorrect, but hey. Perhaps I live in an area where a dark skin is the majority? I couldn’t give a monkeys, but can the white supremacists just fuck off and die?
One thing that there is a lot of are overweight people. This is no lie. One time I was walking into work. Yes, I now walk in to work, who’s a brave girl??? The pavement is a wide one, and on it were two youngish women, both huge. I had to go onto the road to go around them. Either America has an “It’s my glands” problem like no other, or people just eat too much.
However, can you blame them? One thing I do like is the food. Dear America.. I’m only a petite girl, so can we have smaller portions? Earle’s for a hotdog.. well hot dog doesn’t do it justice. In fact most things at Earles’ are just so delicious including the waitress on the occasions we’ve been there, hello. I mean hellooo. Maria levels of attractiveness.
The French dip sandwich at Phillipes too which was heaven. The veggie bean and salsa meal we had up on the hilltop last weekend was so nice I took some home with me. However the best was two weeks ago in the college canteen. A mixture of beef slices, cheese sauce, pickles, fries and cornbread made by some of the students. I’ve the recipe and will be opening a chain when I go home!
I still crave a Toby, and have been unable to find a place that will sell me a decent Sunday roast. A few have tried, but the best being the one I made myself for some uni staff. Their reaction was on the whole, “Can I have some more of that Yorkshire pudding?”
One thing I’m not yet happy with is the language barrier. I speak fairly good French and a smattering of Spanish. Some of us paid attention to Sister Harriet, Anna. It’s the English speakers that floor me every day. Mainly it’s an annoying bruh, or dude, or fam. Then there’s hella…grip…the ever confusing SigAlert….whip…super clutch… but I do like a dirty dog.
My boss is from Mexico and he swears in Spanish constantly, mainly at the gringos hijos de puta that complain about the food being too spicy in the restaurant. “Don’t look at those American college girls Ellie, no good, muy falso, I fix you up with my brother, he’s a good boy, make you forget all about your chica pálida en casa“. I think I’ll give that a enorme desviación.
On other occasions, we have the local gang, who to be fair are always very well behaved around me, into the gym for a physio workout. They laugh at my accent, I try to understand theirs. They are teaching me basketball..slowly. I was good at netball at school but not this. I have rules, no talking badly about anyone, no gang talk, and no swearing. They struggle with this last one, but know I can’t follow along if they talk in their code. They bought me some flowers for my birthday.. I say bought, they probably stole them from a cemetery, but the thought was there. Their school education is lacking, only two of the ten can write which I find absolutely shocking. There are things I like about living here, but things I detest also. Education is one of these. A bog standard comprehensive in the middle of any city in the UK has a better standard of basic literacy then here, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with a comp, before anybody points out that I attended a private school. I’m lucky in that I went to a well thought of school and that my parents could afford to send me there.
What is it then that prevents American children from learning? My gang members tell me that its outside influences. Peer pressure not to attend, the lure of easy money in theft and violence. Despite their outer hardness, they all seem like nice lads. They ask me to write a letter for them, fill in a form, but would I be alone with any of them? No. As Anna would say, I’m daft, not stupid. I did take them all for a meal last week, well McDonalds, for helping me fix the flooring in the gym. One of them, a particularly thin young man that can’t read, write or do the simplest of maths, was on the verge of tears, saying that nobody had ever bought him food. America, you should be ashamed of what your leaders deliberately overlook in this country.
Finally, the elephant in the room. If I like it here, why not stay? Because I like home far better. But then why don’t you go home? Because I have a job to do here. I think, with Anna’s help, that we could set up an education for a few people here. Anna and I have discussed her moving to live with me. She’s ok with the thought, we could buy somewhere nice, she’d easily get a job here.
But we’ve ties in the UK. At the moment all of our parents and guardians are ok health-wise, but as they get older that may not be the case. I’d hate to be here and something happen at home, and we for whatever reason can’t get there. One good thing about my girl’s financial situation is that travel can just happen, but what about the weather, or another lockdown? No, I’ll be going home to stay when I feel this has run it’s course.
And let’s not forget that Anna was going to be in Vancouver while I was here, so to us being apart isn’t a big thing, it was planned. There are those that say do you trust each other? Of course we do. But then we’ve no secrets either, and have too many friends happy for a kiss and cuddle that we’d have to go elsewhere. For example, I miss Abby so much it hurts, but I know she’ll be happy to see me when I go back and that being apart will make that all the sweeter. And we can spend six hours gossiping, something Anna won’t do. I miss so many things that I just can’t stay here. Give me a foggy Blyth morning.
For now, from a sunny Los Angeles evening, where during the writing of this I’ve only heard a solitary gunshot, I wish you well.
West Adams, Los Angeles.
24th June, 2021