It's been well over ten years I've been down here - but sometimes it seems like just a few years.
Other times, it can feel like a lifetime.
I headed out to a New Year's party in the San Fernando Building - just a block away - which was the very first of the new loft buildings to open up. But before I got there, I got waylaid by a small party in my building, then was dragged to another party in a restaurant I passed on the way for a bit, then heard my name yelled from a third floor window of one of the Hellman Buildings (my black cowboy hat makes me instantly visible at any distance) and ended up there for a while and, just as I reached the San Fernando, I was pulled over the railing into the patio of Pete's Cafe and when I finally reached the exterior lobby, I ran into some more old friends there.
In less than one block, with the intent of only attending one brief party - I spent an hour and a half with five different groupings of friends and acquaintances.
At the party I had been trying to get to, I met a lot of the old timers in the 'hood, some of them dating almost back to the fall of 2000 when Tom Gilmore first opened the San Fernando. I also met people who knew about me and people whom I knew about - but whom had never met - and I also met some new people, including a grappler - who - alas! - lives too far away in Long Beach.
I also was asked for my help on three new civic/neighborhood projects before I left and found a person to work with me on one of my projects. Then on my way back, I ran into groups of friends walking at both Winston and Main and at 5th and Main and then dropped by at a party at INMO's Art Gallery on 5th before making my way back to Cowboy Central.
And when I tried to recall what that walk would have been like even last New Year's Eve - much less the year the San Fernando Building first opened - much less the year I first moved down here - it can all seem like a fantastic dream from which I will all too soon wake up.