Ashley Baguio: “Springtime on Spring Street”

A crisp morning in Downtown Los Angeles.
February chills with sunny skies invaded
my senses as we walked toward The Gerry Building.

The building with rounded corners and curves
on Los Angeles Street​.

Guarded with security on the outside and
a checklist to let you through its glass doors.

LA’s house of fashion since 1946.

Greeted on the ninth floor with a sea of white,
where my best friend had an appointment to
buy her wedding dress from Coco Melody.

People looked like ants from this floor.
I could spot pedestrians passing paths,
roads being bulldozed, and renovated.
I could spot fire trucks sailing through the streets,
going as fast as they could into the LA traffic.

$3 parking signs = $20 parking fees.
Workers were slapping orange flags, grabbing our attention.
Fooling people who overpaid to park their cars.
That included us!

It was February, and my mom scolded me
for not wearing a sweater.
It was February, and my best friend found her dress
but all these people,
Waiting and
not knowing what would affect our city.
It was February, and unexpected events were bound to spread.

It is March, and things are not as
enchanting in Downtown LA as before.
It is March, and my dad scolded me
for not wearing a face mask and gloves.

The month of March disappeared into our homes,
The month of April seems nonexistent now.
The heart of L.A. that was once pumped up with love
is now empty of its beating energy.

Lime Scooters used to be littered on the sidewalks,
hoards of teens on their skateboards,
crowds hurrying through the cluttered concrete, and
bustling cars dodged bikers in colored spandex.

But now the only Lime we sense
is the citrus smells from Clorox disinfecting wipes.
No longer can you hear skate wheels grinding on the concrete.
No longer do cars avoid bikers and
bikers avoid cars.

The Staples Center, a core for sports and entertainment.
Once packed with music and sports lovers,
now just a vacant arena without its people.
The NBA has temporarily suspended the 2019-2020 season,
In response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Canceled. Postponed. Refunded.

Lost dreams and memories stay afloat on that empty court.

Santee Alley,
LA’s outdoor shopping experience.
Mounds of clothing throughout the alleyways.
Racks of affordable and chic items, and
mounds of people bargaining to get the best deal.

A quick jaunt through its buzzing scene
will give any visitor an inspiring dose
of color, scent, sound, and culture.

Sidewalks complemented with
rows of mannequin butts wearing jeans
and suits hanging outside of stores.

Prom dresses? They have them,
“But Prom is canceled now.”
A Quinceanera dress? A Debut dress? They have it all!
“But my birthday is in 2 days,
and they just extended the Quarantine… again.”
School Uniforms? They have those!
“But my school eliminated face to face classes.”
Sports Attire? Of course, they have ‘em!
“But my last season has been discontinued.”

Families now struggle to make ends meet,
they cannot sell in those alley streets.

Students and Faculty trying to find solace
through the conditions this virus has taken from them.
From all of us.

Jewelry Marts bolted closed on 6th Street.
Metal bars protecting the insides,
but the outside cannot be protected anymore.
Now it is every being for themselves.

People are confined in their safe places,
except for the people without homes.

Instead of Hot Dog street vendors,

there are hand washing stations for the Homeless.

In an attempt to prevent the virus from infecting
some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
30,000 people sleeping on the streets every night.

We are not prepared for a Public Health Crisis.

No longer are there lines for the Metro Line 30 to Pico.
Cars disappeared like a magician with his tricks,
but this is no trick, this is not an illusion.

This historical moment we are all living becomes surreal,
it becomes our reality.

South Main Street, houses a concert venue.
Opened in 1914 as The National.

Three years later, changed to The Regent.
Known for its sloped floor, proscenium archway,
and a gothic-inspired ceiling.

The Regent Theatre deprived
of its musical talents.
Shared from artists for the fans.

The Regent is a true relic and the last remaining
historic movie theater on Downtown LA’s Main Street.

All Concerts and Festivals,
Postponed. Refunded. Rescheduled.

Instead of housing bodies in concert venues,
the world must house bodies in hospitals
which are currently
Affected by “CoronaVirus”
Affected by “COVID-19”
Affected by “SARS-CoV-2”
Affected by “ChineseVirus”
Affected by “Rona”

Whatever you want to call it, we are equally affected by it.

Downtown LA was full of the diverse and charismatic Angelenos.
Paths were crammed with people and no space to walk.

Now we are 6 feet away from our loved ones.
Now nearby hospitals, like The Good Samaritan
are crammed with people and no room to breathe.

The Last Bookstore,
the irony behind its name with
Each passing day bookstores die​,
But not in the heart of L.A.

People of all shapes and sizes,
of all different covers and bindings,
come together in this 22,000 square foot space.

We are disinfecting the city off of our clothing.
We wear protective gear in order to shield ourselves
and save the colorful people who inhabit this place.

Plans and getaways washed away.
Flowing through the drains.
Drained from working at home.
Clogged with stress and nowhere to run to.

A month ago, we gathered around our city.
We were sandwiched together,
like the clothing racks on Santee Alley.

A month ago Downtown LA was filled with fast-paced people;
the individuals who brought this city to life.

Downtown LA is the heart of diversity.
No what matter your
Music preference,
Fashion style,

Our city can come together, even through broken times.
Our city can come together, even from the confines of our homes.

This city, Downtown LA, it is still home,
This city, Downtown LA, it is thriving,
Even if we are not able to live in it physically.

We are existing through equal hardships,
We are striving to find a brand-new normal,
and as a city, we will get through it as a whole.

A little familiarity with the Downtown LA sunrise
as the structures create silhouettes we know and adore.

The light at the end of the tunnel becomes
Our Los Angeles sun waiting for us.

Springtime on Spring Street, in Downtown LA,
Is not the same when we are indoors but
During these uncertain times, the city will remain.
Buildings and places will always be there.
New memories will take place in the city’s emptiness.

What are you looking for?