SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 124: The Farralone Line

There is a dividing line in my neighborhood, one that I have never prescribed too, politicked for, or taken notice of. But it is a boarder none-the-less.

We’ll call it the Farralone line, there are no guards, no patrols or even posted signs. Yet for some reason, it has become a discussed crossing line.

A line that in my opinion is a complete farce; a man created divide between two cultures, Anglo and Latino.

The border is a mere street, thirty or so feet wide, and a street that I welcomely cross on a daily basis.

And today, it is no surprise to me, while roller-skating with my kid, to meet two very gracious men, Dave (Not pictured) and his friend Fernando.

Both of who welcome me with open arms.

Dave tells me this of his observations regarding the two sides of the street. “You know how you can tell the difference between a Hispanic street and other streets? When people are home there is no place to park on a Hispanic street, on other streets, when people are home, the streets are empty.”

His point, the street he lives on is a living breathing community, obviously the reason that he and Fernando hanging out at day’s end.

At first glance, one might place an incorrect judgment on my neighborhood friends, sure, they have an edge to them, but is that cause for avoidance?

Dave is the least intimidating, sporting a drawn down baseball cap, and Fernando shaved head and tats are a little formidable, leading my daughter, to at first, suggest we pass on approaching them. But after a quick hello, we are both absolutely positive that these are fine men, and extend a reach out in saying greetings to our new, other side of the Farralone line, friends.

Dave’s full street comment strikes resonance with me. I’ve seen he and his neighbors playing street basketball on countless Saturdays, and have often vicariously listened to backyard music and celebration coming from the across the line.

Farralone, as I said is a farce border. A ridiculous and unfounded separation of persons, and I’m certain, a token example of the many boarders that somehow become self-imposed to many of us.

The Farralone border, then give’s us permission to reformat our notions of true community, and a calls us to re-tool our perceptions of the communities we live in.

For me, I love my street, it is a cultural melting pot, and cars on street or not, I’m here to stay.

So here we are, sun setting and enjoying another magnificent California afternoon, just talking in Dave’s front yard.

I ask Fernando to present his thoughts for you. “Never give up, it’s never too late,” so what if it is a comment that we have heard often. It is impactful in letting us all know one thing: We are not alone, in good times or in bad.

Never give up, it’s never too late; I’ve heard it from the poor, the rich, the lost and the empowered. It is universal, hearing it now in multiple languages. And with the admonitions of Fernando, its message carries on.

Unemployed for eighteen months, Fernando, a father of a two-year old son, Kobe (Named after Kobe Bryant of Lakers Fame), speaks of want for a better economy.

“It’s hard to find work, people judge me, stresses me because I’m willing to work hard.”

Of this stress, Fernando, reveals one of his other wishes for the future. I can tell it is half jest, half reality. Laughing, “I’d like to see more medical Marijuana stores;” a live discussion this week, with several interviews leaning towards the topic of substance abuse.

Dave puts me on the spot with this question, “What do you think of smoking?”

I do not condemn nor endorse anyone for their decisions, but do share that I feel it is a gateway to other harder drugs, something that I know from experience, having been a user in the 80’s. I express that I understand there are cases that are legit, medical reasons, certain mental conditions, even accept controlled social uses. But as a daily routine, I am questionable.

We sort of quietly agree to let the discussion drop and move on to a world subject.

“The more the population grows, more people become selfish,” Fernando shares.

“We can’t just think about ourselves, we have to think about others,” he adds, wrapping it up with this, “They don’t know who you are inside.”

“They look at me with tattoos, a shaved head, and draw the wrong conclusion. It’s a Lakers logo, they are my team, or what If it a tattoo of your mom’s name?

There is not a tattoo on my body, but I can relate to the shaved head. The world treats me differently when my hat is off, my face is whiskered and my apparel is tattered. Now I’m not throwing a rose-colored glasses challenge in this observation.

There is a time for neatness and time for letting go. But the point is this, when we meet each other, do we lean on first sight, status, or any other external indicator, or do we inquire, conversing with a looking eye and a listening ear.

As Fernando says, “We have to think about others,” and personalizing his second part of his message, “We don’t know who they are inside.”

“Fernando, Dave, I think I may just join you one of these street basketball days, I can’t shoot, but I can pass.”