Downtown Los Angeles is a place all its own – littered with businessmen, artists, the homeless, bars, rubbish, cafes and hidden cultural gems. By the corner of Fifth and Spring sits the aptly named “Last Bookstore”. Entering the Last Bookstore, I am overwhelmed by history and inspiration. There is the cliche musky, aged book scent, combined with the smell of old cabin wood. A faint sour odor can be detected as you walk the perimeter of the venue, it is the scent of dried urine outdoors seeping in through the windows. People are quiet, with respect for the atmosphere, but comfortable enough to speak to one another and bustle with curiosity about the store.
As I move through the bookshelves and to the upstairs, I am compelled by art exhibits – innovative forms and shapes spewing into my field of vision. There is so much to see – I walk through the entire store, mouth gaping, eyes wide, heart full. Plants grow from stacks of records, archways are formed out of books. I feel a tinge of sadness, knowing that there is all this beauty and information in the world that I will never have enough time to consume. I fall in love with the old typewriters, the dusty books, the rainbow of book bindings, the art installations.
We head back downstairs to take our seats for the open mic poetry readings. I feel at peace and full of wonder, as I always do in places of such tremendous inspiration. I sit, I look around, and I write. I write about all these books, all these authors, whose work became “whole,” and how I never feel done, and how I wonder if the world is running out of ideas, or if they are infinite. Is there such thing as infinite possibility? Is anything truly unique anymore? Has this thought been thought before? In this setting? In this sequence?
The poetry begins. Every voice brings goosebumps to my skin, a smile to my face, and a tear to my eye. People are expressing, and regardless of what it is they are expressing, there is beauty solely in the expression. I relate to each of them, I relate to them having feelings, and I feel envious that they are emoting and I am not. I want to express, I have so much to communicate, but I am timid. So I listen, and absorb, and feel. I see my friends watching, listening alongside me, and I feel content. I am where I belong.