My Life in Azusa
The brassy tones of jazz music overlap the sounds of conversation and the intermittent hissing of an espresso machine. I sit at a table in a coffee shop near my apartment on Alosta Avenue, reflecting on life in Azusa.I remember my first semester here last spring and the first time I ventured out into the city. My roommate had a coupon for Nana’s Ice Creamery, so we took the opportunity to spend some time getting to know each other better. Neither of us owned a car, so we took the trolley to the Global Village apartments and walked the rest of the way to Fifth Street and Azusa Avenue. As we passed simple one-story homes and small businesses, each enlivened by its own unique character, I was reminded of my own neighborhood. Having lived in one place my whole life before I moved here, I could appreciate the rooted quality of the view. Everything seemed to have been growing for years: an oleander bush overhanging a fence, eucalyptus trees towering over the street, and a staircase awash in color with potted flowers on every step. We arrived at Nana’s, where I tasted my first hand-creamed ice cream. We sat outside the shop, sharing some of the loudest laughs and best raspberry ice cream I had ever had. The gray sky grew darker as we finished our cones, so we walked down Azusa Avenue to call a friend for a ride back. On each purple lamppost hung a plant and a colorful banner that let us know we were in “Downtown Azusa.” The colorful old stucco buildings adorned with awnings over the doors and windows made us feel like we were in another decade. We waited for our ride and jumped inside the car just as the street lights began to glow and it started to rain gently. At times, I have hesitated taking these walks; sometimes it seems there is an invisible barrier between my normal route around APU and the rest of the city. It is possible to live “in APU” and not in Azusa. To do this is to feel safety and a shallow comfort, but at the cost of all the beauty this place has to offer. Life inside a glass wall is not the kind of community Jesus ever intended or modeled; the twelve were always with him, but he stayed in towns and ate with the villagers. Moments like these have threaded together my APU education. Things like getting out of my classroom and into another one at an elementary school to accompany a fourth grader through dodge ball and math homework during her after-school program. Experiences like walking out of Monrovia Nursery at sunset, hearing a variety of sounds fill the sky: merriment and music from across the street mingling with ancient chants from the meditation center; the noise from a football game crossing paths with the slowly dying note of a train whistle. As I sit here in the coffee shop, I observe my company: young students from Japan sit across from me, studying and conversing. An older man in plaid talks on a cell phone behind me. A little Hispanic girl wanders over from her mother and looks up at me, clutching a napkin. I imagine she looks like a tiny version of me. A police officer in uniform approaches the counter to order. Outside, I recognize one of my fellow students talking with someone she knows. The woman has stringy hair and a shopping cart in which ride her two pet Labradors. In Azusa, divergent things harmonize, and diverse people live not just around one another, but with each other. Looking around, I realize people have made Azusa environmentally unique, yet it is the people themselves who make it truly special.
Jody Godoy is a sophomore English major and an editorial intern in the Office of University Marketing and Creative Media. email@example.com
Posted: April 1, 2003