Faces of a City

I stood there and stared out at the city, lost among its incredibility. I watched the shadows of light in its midst thin to nothingness; this was the highest view in town. And if someday I have to hike up odd tweaked trails to get a murky, smog-ruined view of Los Angeles instead of this brilliantly defined closer look at a lower and far more pleasant city, then I would just rough it in.

Staring out from that smudged window, I remembered a painting hanging in the far east gallery of the Norton Simon Museum, the mural yellowing at the edges, its once vibrant colors faded with time. And now this picturesque setting so bright and alive in my memory, trailed to an ancient event, centuries old and long since forgotten. Strangers continued to walk in and out of my view.

There he stood. The smoke of his cigarette mingled with the thick vapor of his breath, and I realized that he was posing, offering a picture of a man at ease. And successfully so: His posture and slow walk, everything about him highlighted his relaxation and content, his face mirroring his inner beauty – he was glad to be just where he was, alive in that moment and place. Just by looking at him, I sensed he moved through his life in unquestioned certainty that there was a reason for being. And that is something worth having, and losing it... is to lose something vital.

Most of the faces do not have that look now today; when left alone, they are blank, expressionless, alien and separated from the city they live in, suspicious perhaps even of it. Even though I studied this man only a matter of minutes, retracing features marked by a time long vanished and yet frozen timeless in the making of a moment, I felt as if I read deeper bits of a life lived in a city hardly aged.

© Colleen Yorke. All rights reserved. 2016.
All names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this blog are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred. © All rights reserved.