• a park and buildings

      Farnsworth Park (Photo – ColoradoBlvd.net)

      From age 12 to 23 I called Altadena home. What made it home was leaving and coming back: college, trips, job stints — each ended with a drive up Lake Avenue, back home. I’m leaving again, this time for longer. I don’t know how the town will feel when I come back, and I’m still figuring out how it felt over the past decade.

      By Jordan C-T

      Altadena, which is not actually a town, technically a “census-designated place,” an “unincorporated zone”; where Douglas Kearney was raised, where Percival Everett set Telephone, where Octavia Butler was laid to rest; nestled beneath the San Gabriels, between Eaton Canyon and the Hahamongna watershed; Hahamog’na, the Tongva name for this place, for the people who called it home, who still call it home. Home also of the souvlaki salmon sandwich at Amy’s Greek Cafe, the Tuna Simone at Perry’s, the lavender lemonade at Lavender + Honey, the chai at The Coffee Gallery. I picnicked at Farnsworth, sped along New York, worked at two different offices on Lake, hiked to Millard Falls, spent many nights alone in my room on Concha, then on Crest. This is some of the Altadena I knew. Maybe you know it, too. I am grateful for my version, as I hope you are for yours.

      Below are some excerpts from my journal, which I recorded during my last extended period in Altadena, this past winter.

      road and mountains in the far end

      On N. Lake Ave. towards Cobb Estate (Photo – ColoradoBlvd.net)

      November 24, 2021

      The morning light is bright on the bushes. I’m snuggled up in bed. I began my day incorrectly as usual: seeing notifications on my phone, clicking, scrolling, clicking, scrolling. It’s always worse around the holidays — everything enviable intensifies. This time it wasn’t a horrible feeling, just a dull, familiar ‘why am I here and being less than I could be’ — a common entryway into depressive fugue.

      I could probably script a series of thoughts and actions in response to this response, considering it’s common enough. Let’s see. The one I know best: if you’re going to compare yourself, consider all experiences of human life on the planet. Would you trade your lot for a random lot? But I want a larger arsenal. Maybe something about where it leads: How does this thought help you lead a better life? Informationally there’s nothing new; you know there will always be people of all ages finding success more successfully than you. This is the way of things. But really this is about the emotional weight, the drain, the sad-sack-ness. What will lead you along a path to success is not being deluged with thin lying images of other success, but thoughtful correspondence and discipline.

      A jogger in nature

      Cobb Estate (Photo – ColoradoBlvd.net)

      November 25, 2021

      Here I go again, type type typing. It’s Thanksgiving. Not a holiday that fills me up, but an opportunity to be a holiday participant for M while still complicating the narrative. That I will try to do. I will donate to Native orgs and share about the Tongva/Kizh people. I will do so!

      This view from my bed is very comfortable. Last night M told me that I seemed more centered, from the moment I came back, that it seemed like I had had some sort of a watershed. Of course, it’s silly, but I did love being told that. I desire to be post-watershed. But that requires some work — I have to keep the water flowing.

      Am I more able to express preferences, wants, desires? Are they both more present on an inner level and more fluent on a language level? That would be cool. I will keep tabs. I think I will still always be someone open to many possibilities. But I am also limited.

      A school lawn

      Eliot Arts (Photo – ColoradoBlvd.net)

      November 26

      Just watched Thelma & Louise with M. What a fantastic romp. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon and yes twink-y baby mustache Brad Pitt too. The spirit of Louise and Thelma in that gorgeous car, driving through the West, surrounded by airborne dust. I love that essence. Badass women showing up slovenly slobs — and, driven to the edge, willing to drive off the edge, to remain committed to their vision of themselves. Committed together. Committed to their visions of each other, empowered, liberated, freed along a path of their making, a politics of escalating hijinks.

      December 11

      Reading Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, and which I did a better than average job of summarizing to M at breakfast. One chapter to go. What an accomplishment of a book. But also — what a horror of a country. Of a people. Of blindness. In 2022, how will I commit myself to not just keeping my eyes open but communicating what I see and acting on it meaningfully?

      a row of shops

      East Washinton Village, a favorite hangout for many Altadenans (Photo – ColoradoBlvd.net)

      December 13

      Does living well require willful ugly ignorance to the plight of the world? COVID deaths, horrible tornado deaths, the ever-accumulating injustice glut, all the endings. How does one live alongside it?

      December 14

      Listening to two new Big Thief songs as the rain pours down. We’re in a cloud. The make of the home is such — gutterless — that the water drips straight down from all the sides — that’s the cause of the moss directly below. M is making non-gluten muffins, which is so sweet of her.

      Should I be concerned that these days I imagine writing by hand as tiring, a drain?

      A garden and mountains

      Altadena Community Garden with San Gabriel Mountains in the backdrop (Photo – ColoradoBlvd.net)

      December 18

      Got blood drawn this morning. Always a bit of a challenge, but honestly, this time was not that bad. Makes me think I could maybe even give blood someday. Maybe with good friends.

      For years I’ve had these little fitful fantasies of teaching. Are those signs? Signs of purpose? Or signs of wanting control, of wanting a fantasy of a thing? (I do think I want to teach.) Sometimes I wonder if I really do have a mind for philosophy or religious studies, and perhaps that would have better suited me. Why can’t I just be as good as so many of those I know? Ah!

      a baseball play field

      Baseball at Farnsworth Park (Photo – ColoradoBlvd.net)

      December 27

      Little bits of things. At this desk, I see many neighborhood walkers, dog and regular. Is this sort of little sequence of people usable, interesting? Visually or narratively? I guess not narratively, really, unless it’s part of a character’s visual field, someone sitting and thinking and working, letting himself notice the walkers. Visually I feel like it could work nicely, could be stitched together into something else. I’m thinking of that because, over the weekend, M and I spent two hours watching grandpa’s footage of us as a young family, so kindly curated on a thumb drive and shared by J for my 21st birthday. How lucky that there are such recordings, that otherwise irretrievable younger versions of myself exist on the screen like that? And as I was watching, on top of feeling the expected feelings of disorientation and discomfort and sweetness and maybe disguised nostalgia, I also felt a creative impulse, to make something with the footage, to pull it together and make some sort of odd documentary.

      Trees lining up a street

      Christmas Tree Lane (Photo – ColoradoBlvd.net)

      January 1, 2022

      The new year is here. My language will be renewed. My sight, clarified. My actions, doubled and tripled. My spirit, sequentially—dialectically—soothed and inflamed.

      I slept for some ten hours last night. I keep doing that. I’m concerned. I can take it so easy here. That would be wonderful, a wonderful respite, if I didn’t feel like I was taking it easy for most of the year. I guess, yes, we were living in a pandemic. But I know the vast majority of people weren’t taking it easy; they were grinding and pressing and pushing forward. I want to be a part of the mass of labor, even though I know I’m not supposed to dream of labor. I want to use my energy, my intelligence, my creativity for communal good. That’s really the apex of my vocational desire. Or, if not apex, precis.

      Yesterday was a nice end to the year because it had a theme. The theme was something like, what a strange and powerful pleasure, to encounter documents of your past for the first time. M’s cassette player had arrived the day before, so we opened it, listened to some albums, and then listened to a portion of a meeting she had with a Tucson astrologer in 1987. Then in the evening, we watched an episode of How To with John Wilson about memory and the Mandela effect and then, gloriously, the documentary Summer of Soul, which I first saw this summer at the Boulder Film Festival and was delighted to introduce M to. Mahalia Jackson and Mavis Staples duetting to MLK’s favorite song, singing with a sort of guttural earth-heaven power that just defies. Also Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight, and lots of other incredible acts, seas of beautiful Black people living. Incredible. As Teju Cole wrote, “we owe ourselves our lives.”

      Jordan C-T is a 24-year-old writer, editor, and fact-checker from Altadena now living in Brooklyn.

      shops on a street

      A rhythmic antique slice of a happy day in Altadena (Photo – ColoradoBlvd.net)


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