Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rising at Friendship Park

Clumsily, he emerged from his dirty PT Cruiser and staggered toward the Korean Friendship Bell in San Pedro. The man wasn’t drunk; rather he was squinting through sun’s light at a kite fluttering overhead. He gazed at the kite, wearing a smile from ear to ear as he continued to stumble over a curb and clumps of grass.

I recognized the gray, pony tailed man as a free-spirit (from my Venice Beach days). I noticed what looked like a chicken bone on the band of his felt hat. He also sported a few other bones as well as a Donald Duck button with “Party” written along side. The aroma of burned white sage permeated his clothes. White sage is used by spiritualists to ward off evil spirits.

I introduced myself as he wiped the sweat from his forehead and extended his hand. He pausing for a moment and introducing himself as, “Rising of the Sun,” followed with a mumble, “Yes, that’s me, Rising of the Sun.”

Again, Rising looked up at the kite and marveled at its beauty. He lowered his sunglasses, took a deep breath, and sighed, “Isn’t this a wonderful place?”

I asked if his collection of charms around his neck had meaning. He raised his hand to a bracelet illustrating all the world religions. He said he tries to be a good Christian but believes in all the religions.

“You see, my father is Aztec and my mother is Cherokee and Shoshone,” Rising explained. “I was brought up near this park, and as kids, we used to think we would fall off the edge of the grass into the ocean if we got to close.” He laughed out loud, and like a cowboy after a long dusty ride, he lifted his water bottle to his lips, took a long slurping swig and continued his walk to the Friendship Bell.

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