Geschichten aus Kalifornien

Manchmal reicht es mir nicht mehr, journalistisch zu verarbeiten, was ich als Reporterin erlebe. Deshalb schreibe ich hier hier Gedanken, Beobachtungen und Gefühle jenseits der Berichterstattung auf. Es ist ein Experiment, das mir viel Spass und manchmal Angst macht. Aber es heisst ja, man soll raus aus der Komfortzone.

Reporter's Pledge - Los Angeles, CA

Last week I interviewed a couple whose 20 year old grandson was stabbed to death most likely because he was Jewish and gay. They told me about his love for food, for travel and for helping others. They described what it felt like to hold him in their arms for the first time. They remembered how they taught him to go down a slide on the playground head first and fast. They showed me a lemon tree he planted in the backyard and his recipe for spiced plum upside down cake.

They said the heavens opened after nine months of no rain to expose the shallow grave where the killer left their grandson, and that they are thankful to at least know what happened to him.

They told me what they say to him each night before they go to sleep.

The same day I tutored a high school junior to help with her college application essay. She told me about nights on the street being homeless, about her Mom not knowing where to take her kids, about sleeping among strangers and later in a crowded house with relatives she barely knew.

She described how she always makes sure to get her younger brother to school on time and why she misses early classes because of that. She asked how to best explain 'F's on her report card and whether she should still apply for a spot at the college of her dreams.

I would have never guessed any of this by seeing how they walk through life. Just regular folk, one couple close to 80, the young woman 17.

So, here's my pledge: Never will I forget that everyone I meet carries some kind of sorrow in their heart. Always will I remember not to judge by what I see. Each day I will talk and act accordingly.

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The River Calling - Esalen, CA

"Now, I want you to leave the yurt," our teacher said. She pointed to the windows as if we did not know what was outside: pine trees, eucalyptus, redwoods, the Pacific Ocean and clouds heavy with potential rain. "It is too beautiful to stay inside." She asked us to go towards what's calling us. She promised it would speak to us. She said it would tell us what to write. "It can be a flower, a tree, a bird, a wagon wheel. You will know."

We were in Esalen, Big Sur, a magic place, where people say those things and no one laughs. 

We put on our shoes and jackets, and off we went in all directions, notebooks and pens in our hands. Some of my fellow explorers seemed to know exactly where to go. One sat down next to a bush, one touched a tree. Most seemed a bit lost and still searching like me. We walked slowly, stopped, looked to the sky, into the distance, to the earth. 

Butterscotch Pines - Palm Springs, CA

We walk between the smell of butterscotch from pines. Snow swirls melt on my hair. A creek makes soft turns between red barked giants. Our steps are soft on paths moist from leaves and needles. In the distance water crashes over granite slabs into the gorge.

The light is soft beneath heavy clouds. The air is thin and cold. Each breath is precious. A tree with naked arms becomes a bridge across the flood. Silver, it pierces the sky. We cross, we smile, we laugh, take pictures. An adventure off the beaten path. My jacket is bright blue and warm. You carry our backpack and help me down the graveled rocks. 

Home on the Cliff - At the California Coast

Stuck to the window frame in front of my desk is a picture of a house at the ocean. My dream home. 

It is also the place where the story of my next book might happen. Last week I wrote the following words. Would you keep reading?

Drunk from this new beginning. My cup of life is filled with sage, rosemary and love. 

This is the magic place where I will start with all of who and what life made me. Where lies to please and appease end. Where nothing but straight forward action is required. Not a lot of spoken words, but kindness and compassion.

The house came furnished. All I brought fit in my car: a suitcase with clothes and a box of books, notebooks and pens, kitchen stuff, two sets of sheets and towels, the teddy bear my mother gave me when I was six years old and a machete for the weeds. 

Barefoot Under Waterfalls - Santa Monica Mountains

Our hike is mellow after an asphalt climb between mansions, wrought iron gates and garden landscapes. We walk through meadows of fresh grass towards a valley of dead trees, leaves the color of rust and a path of mud mixed with ash. Out of scorched hillsides grow fields of phospherous green, wild mustard yellow, lupine purple and California poppy orange. We cross a creek. Its whisper will be our companion and lead us to the waterfall.

The sky is this day's canvas. Cornflower blue. Not one cloud. Coal limbs from old trees stretch towards it, surviving witnesses of last November's forest fires. I touch a bark-less carbon skin. It's soft like driftwood and leaves no trace inside my hand.

Before the fires, thorny bushes scratched my calves along this hike. Sage and fern grew everywhere. Shade from trees used to keep the earth moist and slippery.

Today, we walk on sun baked paths.