Stand Together

Yeah, as the earth spins into a brand new day/ I see the light on the horizon’s not fading away

— Beastie Boys


I went downtown yesterday for the first time since the pandemic began. Perhaps, the first time this year? Who even remembers what you were personally doing in January and February of 2020?

Anyway, in only my third or fourth trek out of the valley in nine months, I trundled through holiday traffic to pick up our pre-made Thanksgiving Dinner—who wants to cook for fun or ceremony right now?—from a fancy restaurant. Things like the chaotic puzzle of getting over from the 110/101 merger to the 4th street exit haven’t changed, nor has the amount of construction happening in DTLA.

The surface streets were emptier, though. Free street parking was available, and the sidewalks were not full of people moving around. They were, however, bursting with tents. “Garcettivilles” are what some of the most assertive activists on the socials have taken to calling them. They are in my neighborhood as well, particularly along the river at Van Nuys and Riverside. If you’ve had the privilege of staying home only roaming a few blocks in your zip code as I have been, you do not have a scale of the problem.

Unhoused neighbors are everywhere! Along Main and Spring. In every patch of grass on the side of the 101. It’s maddening that we allow for people to fall into homelessness in these numbers at any time but during a pandemic? What are we doing?

I thought this as I picked up our expensive meal-for-two, which we can afford easily because no one in our house has lost work this year. No one in my immediate or extended family has contracted the virus (yet). I’m sure some have had to pinch a penny here and there, but no one has struggled to feed or house themselves. I’ve gotten healthier in 2020. We’ve been able to make our place more of a home, buying furniture, hanging art and photos, replacing appliances, and making fuller use of the space.

We even voted out that guy.

We’re fortunate, and I’m grateful. There are people in tents all over Los Angeles today. This year has gone very differently for them, likely due to circumstances well beyond their control. Regardless, a nation, a state, a county, a city, and a community as wealthy as ours shouldn’t allow it to happen.

We could stand together. It’s about time. We got to get together.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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