Wednesday, April 30, 2008


It was a bad day.
How bad? Testy is the best way to describe my disposition at the time.
And it wasn’t only me. Everyone I bumped into seemed irritable.
I watched people get into arguments. I was in a couple of them myself.
First, a little background:
Stepping out of my normal box, I see a San Pedro community pulsating with anger about over development, a proposed new high school, traffic quagmires and parking shortages. In general, I see a community frustrated about the way San Pedro is reshaping itself.
New families priced out of the South Bay housing market see this community as the last bastion where you can live near the water in a “reasonably” priced home – under a million bucks. They are the fresh faces in a town that prides itself on generations of tight, large families that emigrated from places such as Croatia and Italy. Newcomers bring new pieces to the puzzle. Sometimes they fit, and sometimes they don’t.
Downtown is being redefined as an upscale condo haven, but everybody’s holding their breath wondering if the new units will sell in a sliding economy. Downtown businesses are shuttering their doors or surviving by a thread. And looming budget cuts from every direction make people wonder whether they will have jobs tomorrow. On the street, I keep hearing people ask: “Tell me again, why can’t we break away from L.A.?”
It seems everyone is wondering what tomorrow will bring.
This brings me to my point. That was exactly the type of day I was having Tuesday. Small things were piling up, like the ATM failing to give me a receipt. When I went inside to get one, the clerk told me irritably she couldn’t help. The ATM is operated separately and there was nothing she could do.
Talk about a gigantic lie! That was the beginning, and it went downhill from there.
Then two things happened that made me wake up and smell the flowers. It took some time. The first was at a meeting when Ana Dragin, an aide to Councilwoman Janice Hahn, confirmed she was leaving to have her first baby.
At the end of the meeting, LAPD Senior Lead Officer Joe Buscaino and his wife Jay surprised Ana – and all of us – by presenting her with a cake and flowers. This might not seem like a big deal, but I could tell it made Ana’s day. It was so thoughtful because these people don’t work together routinely. This group meets once a month or so to discuss safety issues.
Still, I returned to my grumpy mode within minutes of leaving the meeting.
Late in the afternoon, I was peering out at the ocean as I walked along Paseo del Mar. Point Fermin Park was oddly quiet for 5 o’clock. It was nearly empty, in fact.
That’s when I saw it: a thick wave in the middle of the ocean going in the opposite direction of the current.
It seemed odd. I couldn’t remember a rock out there before. That’s when it began to rise up from the water. I suddenly realized it was a gray whale headed back to Alaska. Then it lurched out of the water in a giant leap!
It was like magic to see something like this. I looked around to find someone to share it with and didn’t see a soul. There it went again! The whale performed another spectacular breech into the air. I witnessed this three times and still I couldn’t find another soul.
Perhaps the gift would have to be savored alone.
But toward the end of the walkway, three young men were peering out at the ocean with big smiles on their faces. That made me suspect they had lucked out, too.
“Did you see the whale?” I asked excitedly. Happily, one of the men said not only had they seen the leviathan, they watched it leap from the water six times. Although he’d lived in San Pedro for years, he’d never seen anything like that before.
That put my grumpiness to rest, at least for the rest of the day. Within a few minutes the park had filled and the whale had moved on. That glimpse reminded me why we live in San Pedro: It’s because you can see the universe work its magic on a daily basis.
At that moment, I felt I was the luckiest gal on Earth.