The Way of Things

        Hop from the lily pad and Frog landed on the soft cool earth. Hop forward into the grass that tickled against his skin. Hop high onto a reed and swing low amongst the pond weeds. Before Frog hopped away, he heard a buzz. Excited, Frog scanned in hopes of finding food flying around him. He was hungry now and delighted at the thought of a fly. Buzz buzz buzz, but no fly was near. Then Frog stared forward and between two reeds was a large web. How silly, thought Frog, spiders do not buzz. He trained his eyes across the web, but found near it’s center a dragonfly and not a spider. The Dragonfly jittered and struggled to be free. What luck! A treat for Frog and practically served to him. Before Frog could flick out his tongue, the dragonfly looked straight at him with alarm and spoke.

Oh! Hello there!

Frog was stunned, did that dragonfly just speak? To me?

Dragonfly continued,

I suppose today is a very unfortunate day for me, but, at least it is a fortunate one for you.

Frog was astonished,

You can speak?

Dragonfly smiled sweetly,

I do.

Frog muttered to himself

How strange….

Dragonfly replied,

Is it?

Frog began to compose himself,

I have never met a dragonfly who could speak, or any insect really

Dragonfly looked puzzled,

Come to think of it, neither have I! You’re correct indeed to say how strange, how very strange…

        Frog did not know what to make of what was happening. He was merrywell going to eat the dragonfly and now he is having a conversation with it! He even forgot how hungry he still was.

Well how funny this all is! I must admit I’m full of conflicting emotions, with you being the first soul I’ve ever spoken to, as well as you being a frog who, well, looks rather peckish and me…well let’s leave it at that

Dragonfly said in a rush, half giddiness half dread

Frog was still awe struck and remained still

Dragonfly noticed his hesitation,

If I could dare to ask you a favor, would you be so kind as to hear a story? I’ve had a story on my mind for the longest and no one to tell it to.

Frog remained stunned and without fully knowing it, had nodded in approval

Dragonfly began,

A long time ago, when magic still filled the earth, there lived a Dragon…

        And for what seemed like all afternoon, Dragonfly spoke eloquently about a bold dragon whose life was woven with adventure, misfortune, courage, love. It was the most wonderful thing Frog had heard in all his life.

How lovely! What a charming tale! I never knew you could be such a splendid story teller.

Exclaimed Frog

Dragonfly smiled again,

Thanks very much, I appreciate your kind words, especially in these last few moments. If I am to die, I am glad to have left a part of me. Please, tell the story often and think of me if it pleases you.

        Frog knew he would eat the dragonfly, but he also knew how much of a loss it would be to the pond if he did. She had a special quality about her that Frog knew was incredibly rare these days, let alone that she could talk somehow. It had been ages since Frog spoke or thought so much, and with a dragonfly no less. There was no debating it, however, for it is the way things are; the dragonfly has been caught and frog is hungry.

Frog became solemn and stone faced,

I believe I will remember you as long as I live. I will tell your story and I will think of you.

        Frog became extra sad upon wondering if there would ever be another soul he could tell the story to. Until today there had only been his food buzzing about, the fish below the lily pads, and the occasional bird who flew and fluttered in the trees above. None of whom had ever uttered a word to Frog. And here, now, there is a dragonfly, caught in a web, telling lovely stories before she is eaten. She ceased jittering and had appeared almost relaxed and serene.

Frog broke his stone-like facade,

What is your name?

I am Eowyn.

Frog looked visibly sad now.

Eowyn. I am Alfred.

        Eowyn bowed her head politely and said no more. She looked into Alfred’s eyes. Her eyes were not pleading, but friendly. Two friends saying farewell. A moment passed and swelled. Alfred began to imagine freeing Eowyn. He thought further and he imagined asking her to visit him from time to time, to tell more stories, to keep him company. The sun was setting and the moment had swelled completely. In its bursting Alfred broke his gaze from Eowyn’s and lashed out his tongue.

        The moment after was empty and Alfred was hungry no more, maybe even for the rest of the evening.

        Alfred looked around and was alone once again. He had been alone before and it gave him no grief then. That was before he knew time without loneliness. He wept briefly and then began to speak aloud to no one and no thing in particular, hopping along

A long time ago, when magic still filled the earth, there lived a Dragonfly…

A type of love letter

Sylmar. The east-most corner piece of the San Fernando Valley. At first glance, the city isn’t much to look at. It’s dusty, surrounded by freeways, bordered by mountains, and filled with plenty of mom and pop restaurants/shops that don’t give off that quaint small-town vibe that should come with a description like “mom and pop”. No, there isn’t a “folksy” aesthetic here, but there is something more honest. Everywhere there is a grit. The people aren’t mean or unapproachable. You just see hard work and long hours and perseverance and a slight worn look about everybody. It’s humility. It’s working two jobs to feed five mouths. It’s clipping coupons for groceries. It’s roses by the freeway and fruit on the corner. Grandpa, grandma, mom, dad, big brother, big sister. Everybody does their part and you can see how they wear it.

The kids don’t have the grit yet. They go to school, they play, they ask for toys and games and ice cream, but they carry on their backs the dream of a better tomorrow. It’s not their dream, but their parents. A large burden that they don’t know of yet, but the rest of us know, because we put it there. For now, the childhood innocence serves as a visual balance to the adulthood around them. It’s what makes Sylmar unique from other cities in the San Fernando Valley. You see a very specific people here and I don’t mean the dominant hispanic demographic. The buildings are boring, the shops are plain, but the people are strong. There is a resilience that emanates from each glance that is also drawn in the lines of their faces, each one telling the story of how that resilience came to be.

Sylmar is almost spartan. It’s not a place to do things. That’s what the freeways are for, to take you places where you can do those things. Sylmar is a place where you become into something. Witness people in a metamorphosis that takes them hungry and turns them into self-sustaining champions; where people open their doors to see mountains and then climb them. You can’t help but revere people like that. This city was made for and by them. A community deserving of respect and pride. The lucky do not live here, the ultra-rich do not live here, only the meek and gritty. They live here and they live a hard life, but a good life. I hope while I’m here, I get the opportunity to do the same.