22, young and (un)afraid / by laurel

Welcome to the motherland. California opens her wearied welcoming arms, O Traveler. Allow yourself to be embraced and feel the warmth of that famed honey pacific sun. California's siren call beckons you to relieve your cares and throw your caution to the wind.

In Los Angeles, the sprinklers don’t water the grass. Whether this is a crucial miscalculation by sprinkler-head manufacturers or simply a fluke—a glitch in the systemized grid of Los Angeles proper—is not presently known. It is widely believed that many years ago, sprinklers did, in fact, water the grass for which they were so lovingly created. However, due to extenuating circumstances, the sprinklers also watered the concrete.

Because of this, the concrete grew and grew until it gobbled up almost everything. In the plant kingdom, there are certain weeds known to do the very same thing. And just like horticulture, there are many different species of concrete, different varietals for diverse landscapes, and so on.

Luckily, Californians didn’t seem to mind this.

They simply cultivated the crops of concrete by using special machines to plow over the rolling hills of concrete farmland. But the sprinklers just kept on watering, sputtering mouthfuls of water onto the calloused ground day after day until all grass and horticulture ceased to exist in its natural state. Never fearing the phenomenon before them, Los Angeles farmers and scientists (being the fearless opportunists that they are) snatched up the occasion to create a new kind of culture: Cementeculture.

Now instead of fretting about the loss of horticulture, farmers and scientists were able to frenetically dump their energy into cementeculture, and thus new crops of concrete sprang up almost every day. Sprinkling systems squirted and gargled as streams of water marched sinuously into the cracks and crevices on the ground below and the concrete just kept growing.

Subsequently, water had nowhere to go. Neither did smog, nor thoughts, nor ideas. The influx of farmers who moved to Los Angeles to cultivate their own concrete crops caused the fields to thunder with the steps of its overweight masses, bouncing thoughts and ideas back and forth like a spilled sack of marbles.

Seeing the churning sea of concrete around them made the farmers nervous. The long-extinct horticulture boasted one thing that cementeculture couldn’t: trees. So the nervous farmers and the opportunistic scientists put their heads together and delved into their past to uncover a solution: palm trees.

Palm trees were special because instead of growing outward and crowding the ideas and thoughts and smog and concrete, palm trees grew straight up, up, up into the sky. The farmers and the scientists were thrilled to learn that palm trees don’t use ideas or concrete for energy, either, thus preserving the surplus of both. Instead, palm trees munch on sunlight and the shimmering beams from helicopters, and keep on growing into the heavens.

Down below, these special trees didn’t grow roots the way the extinct trees used to; they grew pots. Nice, bulbous ceramic pots that encompassed their bases and allowed them to shiver decadently in the breeze while sipping their sun smoothie.

This tickled the farmers to death, and sent the scientists into a tizzy, and so cementeculture was cemented as a valid and tantalizing way of life. Now special machines called cars could devour the ground and sail from one piece of farmland to another. To make it easier for the cars to find their way from place to place, developers created healthy arteries of special concrete that pulsed through the outskirts and the centers of the busiest concrete farms, connecting them all.

Sometimes an artery would become clogged with all the machinery flowing through it constantly. These arteries would burst every day around 5:00pm from all the hustle and bustle. The developers thought it decent to at least number these arteries so motorists could identify their whereabouts while they were dashing from one farm to another. For example, a gaping wound called the 210 is sutured by cross streets named after extinct horticultural legends like citrus and fruit.

And so the people of Los Angeles came to be. Now they coexist peacefully by buzzing from artery to artery, without ever touching (unless they crash into one another by accident, which they sometimes do); feeding off the floating ideas and thoughts that have risen from the ground. All the while, sprinklers gurgle and spit and toss more ideas into the atmosphere and grow more concrete.