When I was five, my mother and father played this game with me. I asked, Where am I from?
My father listed all the possible places. He started with my mother. That’s where you came from, he said.
Where else! I asked. Where else!
Watts, he said. That is where I was conceived. Then Eightieth Street, he said, the place I first knew as home. Then Los Angeles. Then California. All the way from Tennessee. All the way from Africa, my father said.
Where else, I cried. From kings and queens?
No, he said. Kings and queens had buckets of gold, and we never had any of that.
Yes! I said.
No! he said. To prove it, he tried to tell me serious stories about hard times and sacrifices and how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. Boring, sad stories.
And so I said, I’m not from any of those places. I’m just from California.
Where in California then? he asked me. California is big, he said.
So I picked a name I really liked, all by myself, with the help of TV. A crazy, complicated name. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Hmm, my mother said. She frowned. Supercali who? Who lives there then?
Anybody who wants to, I said.
How you get to this place you talking about? she asked.
I was stuck then. I didn’t know. I hadn’t thought of that. How was everybody going to get there? I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I loved where I was already, in Los Angeles. But I loved my place in California even better because it sounded like confetti and long streamers coming down from the sky, caressing my face, this other place in California, the beautiful Blue Chip Stamps my mother and I used to save, and all kinds of other images and words and ideas I couldn’t put a name to at the time.
Graphic by Dan Peterka
Feb 16, 04:51 PMPurchase or Subscribe to Slake: Los Angeles
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