The “red snake” slithers into downtown after a 47-minute trip from East County.
  • The “red snake” slithers into downtown after a 47-minute trip from East County.

Title: I Have A Voice Too


Author: Matthew Melao

From: Santee

Blogging since: March 2012

Post Title: A Slow-Moving Meditation

Post Date: June 23, 2012

The best way to explore a city is not by car. While driving, your concerns are traffic, traffic lights, getting to your destination, and possibly texting, and so there is little real chance to look at the layout of the urban landscape. You may learn routes, how to get from A to B, but to really see a city you need to step outside the car.

I parked in the largely vacant East County parking lot, bought my all-day MTS ticket, and sat on a bench to wait for the bright red trolley that would take me in a southwest arc to downtown San Diego, where I would find a good friend and cold beers. I gazed off into the distance. Not a cloud was in the sky on what was turning out to be a hot afternoon.

Because I was starting at the end of the line, the trolley cars were empty like the parking lot, but I quickly grabbed the nearest seat to the doors, as if there were a throng of competing passengers. In both Romania and Korea, you learn to move fast, to stay out of the way of old women, and elbow your way into seats, or else you go without.

I like taking public transportation, except when it’s crowded and when I’m in a hurry. The worst I’ve seen were buses during rush hour in the center of Bucharest. They would become so crowded that not a single extra person could be added. Once, I just barely squeezed into one, but the door closed painfully on my foot. Worse, it proved nearly impossible to extricate.

Sitting by the large window on the trolley, I was excited. I felt like a traveler out

on another adventure again. Maybe this wasn’t gritty Eastern Europe or exotic Southeast Asia, but this was a city where millions of tourists flock every year, and I’d get a chance to see its backside in a slow moving meditation.

Leaving the station, the trolley cut its path through green foliage and lush landscaping, urban housing complexes, graffiti-marked warehouses and walls, upscale shopping districts, and along arid cliffs of sage and cactus. I tried to take in everything on both sides of the track. Life lay in all directions.

Forty-seven minutes later, the red snake slithered into my day’s destination, a stone’s throw from San Diego’s largest homeless shelter — my former employer. It’s an area I’ve grown to love. But there was no time to reminisce, as my bladder was beckoning loudly, waiting impatiently to be emptied so it could be refilled with craft brews.

Over fish and chips and fish tacos, we discussed days long past of working at the shelter, and also job hunting and our future prospects. His plans sounded more concrete than mine. He knew better what he wanted. Any plans I have seem so ethereal, distant, vague, and maybe even small and unimportant because I can’t help but feel that there is something much bigger than me just around the corner.

The first bar we entered was empty and had no IPAs, but the bartender was kind enough to run to his other pub to get me one. In the second bar, a friendly and beautiful blonde bartender served me up Stone’s rich Imperial Black IPA. It had a sweet, hoppy, roasted malty flavor, perfect for slow sipping. I decided to stay for a second beer, as I noticed they were well stocked with Dogfish Head’s 90-minute IPA, and the bartender was chatty though not flirtatious.

Alone (my friend departed after my first beer), I then wandered off to find a third bar to settle in. I found myself on Broadway, so I walked one block west and headed south on Fourth until the open door of the Rock Bottom Brewery invited me inside. I knew this microbrewery. It had served me up my first IPA.

Two or so beers later, my friend and his wife arrived and whisked me off to Thai food, and after Tom Kha soup I returned to the trolley station for my sobering ride back to my speck in the high desert of East County.

[Post edited for length and content.]

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