#474: Holly Park, Hawthorne / a kindness

Having a quest is a wonderful feeling.  It makes me feel part of something bigger than myself, something that will not only turn out eventually to have meaning but also is meaningful in the moment.

The meaning of Tennis Quest thus far is that it’s fascinating to put myself out there and see Los Angeles in full sunshine and drought.  It is way, way better than spending my retirement sitting in my backyard getting high, which is what I was afraid I’d be doing.  But nope, one of my rules is I have to be a sober gopher while on the quest so as to bring back a reliable report.

Today’s report is that I had my first ghosting, which is pretty good considering that this is LA, home of the flake.  I’ve visited 12 parks before today, and not until Lucky 13 did I get stood up.   S. – the guy I met on the street in Gardena yesterday – emailed to say he was gonna be at Holly Park in Hawthorne at 3pm, so I heeded the call.

However, two bus rides, one train, one mile walk later, he not there — car trouble, he said when I called, we’ve all been there, no hard feelings) — the rec center was all boarded up.  Holly Park is the loneliest park I have visited thus far.  I only saw five people:  a woman sitting on some steps in the shade, shouting at her phone; another guy laying on a picnic table getting yelled at by someone on his phone; an apparent dad and young daughter sitting on a bench, presumably telling stories to last a lifetime; and a lonesome wayfarer off in the distance, not me, someone else, although perhaps also on a quest.

I’m glad to report I had a blast.  There was a jacaranda tree still in full purple bloom, unusual for September.  Jacaranda trees always seem like a harbinger of good fortune when they bloom at the end of May; to see one here so resplendent on the fourth-to-last-day of summer felt opportune.

I visited an American flag all by itself, lonely but still there in center field.  Together, we made up a game called Knock Over the Coffee Cup, because I had gotten an iced coffee upon feeling a wee bit winded when facing the prospect of a mile trek from the Crenshaw station to the park.  Yeah, I was ice-coffee’d up for all of this, full disclosure.

Anyway, I really do think narcissism gets a bad rap a lot of the time because it does bring me so much pleasure to video myself.  I’m sorry if this is bad, but it confirms my existence.  It’s like a baby looking into a mirror.  Isn’t it supposedly a good thing to be in touch with your younger self?

All I know is, when I was a kid I did a LOT of playing ball games by myself and yesterday I had a giddy good time making a video of me trying to knock over the dregs of my iced coffee with my serve.  I could not actually achieve this goal; however, process-not-product 4ever.

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There was a taco truck parked on the edge of the park, but it was closed, so, oh well.  I do wanna give a shout-out here to the driver of the 5 Torrance bus, who stopped even though I wasn’t at the bus stop to give me a lift back to the Crenshaw station.  Thank you, bus driver, for your kindness.

Published by MarkGozonsky

Mark Gozonsky is the author of The Gift is to the Giver: Chronicles of a 21st Century Decade (Keppie Usage, 2022). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Sun, and Lit Hub. Mark’s essay, “Gritty All Day Long,” is anthologized by Norton and featured in Best American Sports Writing. He has been writing since his emergence as a gigantic music nerd in early-1970’s San Antonio, Texas. Stints as a regular commentator on public radio’s Marketplace and Internet 1.0 exec preceded a 20-year run as a public school teacher. Marko’s favorite writing topics include unorthodox pedagogy, well-intended gardening, and the intersection of baseball and urban bicycling. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, where he is working on a new book about his quest to play tennis on every free public court in LA.

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