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A Byline Filled with Pride

I found out that Charles Bukowski lived in San Pedro. Eventually he died here. Here as in San Pedro, my home and his home. It made me wonder how he said it. Pedro. Those who are Spanish speaking and those from out of town use an a sound for the e. Those who consider themselves locals and do not speak fluent Spanish use a long e sound for the e. I call it San Peedro. As in a local who is not Spanish speaking.

He lived off of Gaffey. Not to far from my home. Learning this I felt mighty. Having never read his work, I couldn’t tell you why. But that name has power behind it. My seaside town with colorful containers with tall cranes towering like a mix between dinosaur and robot filling half the beach, and perilous rocky tide pools with sea cucumbers, but not the best surfing conditions, filling the other half, San Pedro has never been deemed prime real estate. The beach cities surrounding it with their soft, warm, golden sand and volley ball courts and tanned, bleach blondes are much more hip.   However Bukowski just upped the modest town’s rank, in my opinion.

I found this out on a Tuesday. Tuesdays are my days off. I go to a coffee shop where poets read their work. I read mine when I want to feel high. That same high as when you trust somebody you have only just met with your vulnerabilities. When you tell a dear friend you love them for the first time. When you bare your flesh to a person turning lover, after a lot of time. Time makes the high higher.

On the Tuesday I learned Bukowski lived in San Pedro I read something about driving and bears scattering our ideas. I wanted the high from Saturday morning to continue to allow me to float. However, I know that, eventually, I will hit the round earth again.

That Saturday morning though, I began to drift. It’s the highest I’ve gone, seeing the entire earth’s surface reminding me of Aurora Borealis. Within that cluster of gas and soil and construction and green I was walking slowly in the direction of where I wanted to be. It was a miniature me. A speck within the Aurora Borealis. That’s why I bleached my hair, so that I could tell which speck was me and ground myself where I was in life.

As I held the newspaper in both my hands, the wood pulp and recycled matter brownish gray paper that is impossible to hold with only one hand, my eyes kept wandering to the top left hand corner. “By TAYLOR SIMMONS” it read. And I drifted higher, my heart racing, becoming more convinced of how I want to be.

My father teared up when I shoved the paper in his direction. They were tears full of pride. Pride is a funny emotion. It’s transmittal, and as his eyes filled, I felt it within myself.

I took that pride with me as I read into a microphone about driving and bears scattering ideas in a quirky coffee shop that matched its patrons. On that Tuesday I was slowly grounded again as I heard beautiful words slip through the lips of poets and musicians and writers. They became ideas and inspiration as I watched them float through the thick, permeable skulls of those listening with their eyes closed, heads tilted toward the dark, wooden ceiling. My feet met the sweet, luscious earth ready to live rather than float.

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