Hollywood doesn’t set you free; she crawls under your skin and into your head. She feeds you her pulse and pulls you into her sun starched rhythm. In Hollywood, there is no such thing as typical, no blueprint or uniform. We are not identifiable. We move slowly but are never settled. I walk her streets with vigilance and curious eyes. There is always something to see.
Outside the grocery store, at the junction of Sunset and Poinsettia, I wait patiently for the light to change. A girl on a bike glides past me. The bike is old-fashioned with big white washed tires, flowing handle bars and an empty red basket at the front. She peddles slowly, as if she has the whole day to ride aimlessly and contemplate simple things. She wears a big yellow sun hat, tied with a ruby ribbon, and a tank top saturated with the sky. The scene sends me into lilting images of country roads, until I see her exposed glittery g-string and the butterfly tattoo on her lower back.
Across the street, an emaciated man with brittle shards of bleached hair stops suddenly and shouts into the ground, holding himself tightly around his middle. He screams in a delighted agony, then leaps into the air and races off down Sunset, darting around tourists and sidewalk nappers. The girl on the bike doesn’t even glance in his direction, just keeps peddling further into her own imagination.
A withering woman leans against the sign post next to me, exhausted, old Hollywood etched into the wrinkles on her face and hands. She smiles at the girl on the bike, remembering her own star lit youth, and watches the dance of the shouting man as if it is something she has seen a million times. I wonder if one day I will be her.
Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Hollywood. Much of her work focuses on her experiences as a partially sighted woman in a sprawling urban environment. In addition to poetry and creative non -fiction, she also writes a blog called “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”.