We are just barely outside of downtown LA.
If I close one eye and put out my hand I could squish all of the big buildings in between my finger and thumb.
It’s a small street with cars parked tightly on each side.
Their bumpers are as close as a kiss.
A tiny car leaves and a midsize SUV pulls up and attempts to take the spot.
I watch them for a while.
Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. Kiss. Kiss. Kiss.
I turn away once I realize their efforts are futile and that my gawking probably isn’t helping.
Let’s be honest, the lowest level of hell will include parallel parking in front of an audience.
Music is playing loudly from the bright green house, but we are just outside the fence.
On Young Jesus.
Bodies pour out of the house.
Some of them are laughing, sharing stories.
Some of them are smoking—cigarettes and such.
Some of them are dancing wildly.
We are all a part of this moment.
Young Jesus is surrounded by desert plants and twinkly lights.
But most of the crowd is up on a wooden balcony.
Flicking their ash down below.
There’s a bald man down there and I wonder if the ash is burning his exposed head.
I look back at the car trying to park.
They give up and start driving away.
I turn back to Young Jesus and this beautiful moment with this bizarre crowd of complete strangers.
Even though I’m not on stage,
(I can’t even play music, to be honest)
I am a part of this moment.
I turn around to see the SUV drive by again.
Still looking for a spot.
LA is not my home.
It’s approximately one hundred miles from my apartment.
But in this space, there is peace.
And I take note of it.
I bottle it up and put it in my pocket, hoping to drink the memories in later.
I know I won’t remember these faces.
Even now, I can barely recall the music.
But that moment is still there, like a distant taste lingering on the tip of my tongue.
I turn back toward the street and I see the person from the SUV getting out of their car.
I don’t know how they did it.
But they finally made it into that spot.
And we look at each other.
Kelli Johnson hails from the burgeoning metropolis known as Bakersfield, CA. She studied creative writing and film at Azusa Pacific University and, despite her perpetual resting baby face, went on to teach all of the coolest high school freshmen in the world (hi guys!). Some of her work can be found on Thought Catalog, Writtalin, New Interstice, and even Tiger Beat magazine (but we don’t talk about that).