Baile de quinceaños in the Citizen’s Hall at 5pm today. Maria read the banner to her mother as they entered into the plaza. Rebecca, her mother, looked at her with a big smile. The Zocalo and palco were festive. Balloons were tied to handrails and children were playing in the background. In all directions the community comes together.
It’s June 1st and Maria has just completed the 5th grade and her first geography class, which she enjoyed. She especially liked looking at maps. Cities, roads, and mountains could be seen in relationship to each other and each place held a story. Her teacher liked to tell stories. She told Maria and her friends many stories, some imaginary, and some real. All were about people and places, past and present. Maria was excited to see the map embedded in the plaza. There was Pacoima, where she was born and there were the other cities she remembered from signs she read from the car. Her friend Emily’s grandfather was now telling stories about the history of Pacoima. There were a dozen children sitting around listening In all directions the children come together.
Maria looked over and saw other children playing in the cooling mist that came up from the shadows of the garage. This wet cloud was the attractor of children seeking relief in the mid-day sun, and the summer heat.
There were sounds of other children playing and people talking at the weekend farmer’s market, where the cars park during the week. Maria wants to eat a plum. In all directions the community comes together.
Elders sitting on benches in the shade, talk to each other and greet the passersby, they remember when they were in a hurry. Now they mostly recollect other things without a sense of urgency. Mr. Echeveria explains why the color of light changes 11 times throughout the day as he gestures towards the orange sky. “Think of a prism,” he tells the young ones. Mostly he sits quietly speaking in silence. Sometimes his long-time friends tell stories. Maria always learns something new when she really listens. Elders are the best teachers, she thinks. In all directions the elders come together.
The meeting has begun, Rebecca is on the neighborhood council and they will meet tonight with Councilman Padilla in the Citizen’s Hall. Maria is excited to be here with so many others. The room is filled and there are others standing outside on the PALCO looking in. “I’ve never seen such a big door,” she says to her mom who explains it is to make the room bigger.
As Mr. Padilla speaks she sees him standing in front of the city and the mountains. She likes this view. She can see close and far way at the same time. Her mom tells her the Hall is where democracy is kept VITAL. Maria asks, “What does that mean?” “Alive and healthy,” it is explained.
Maria also likes to listen to her mom and the others talk about how to make Pacoima better. They do not all agree with each other but they always work it out. Maria tells her friend, “This is just like my house.” In all directions the CITIZENS come together.
Maria and Rebecca have come to the City Hall to meet some friends. It is Saturday and the farmer’s market has ended and the Zocalo is filled with people on the Palco and bridges, the plaza and the café, where students are doing homework, and sending e-mail in the Internet café. Everyone is here to watch a movie on the WALL. It will be a documentary about the murals of Diego Rivera. He was a great Mexican artist who was married to Frida Kalo, who was also a great Mexican artist, and his inspiration. The wall is a big attraction in the plaza. There is always a new mural on the WALL. Four times each year it changes. Local artist and those invited from other countries come to paint while we watch Maria tell her friend, “I want to paint a mural one day.” In all directions the community comes together.
Maria likes to come and watch the parade. There used to be only one each year. Now there are two. Sometimes they stand on the street and other times on the PALCO, the skybox. Maria helped her brother get his car ready for the Parade of Cars. There are so many beautiful ones, some dance, some make sounds, some move like a magic carpet. I am so proud of my brother, Maria thinks. In all directions the cars come together.