Flash photo of two women on a small dock in Long Beach with the Queen Mary in the distance behind them

Sara & Marta at Shoreline Aquatic Park in Long Beach, with The Queen Mary behind them in the background or, as they liked to call it, “The Titanic.”

Sara & Marta from Katowice, Poland came to visit. They’re great conversationalists, and also great travelers. It seems that you can throw them into any situation and they’ll not only work it out, but have a good experience with it.

My part of their trip started with a circuitous bus ride from Tijuana to Union Station in Los Angeles, to CSULB where we didn’t quite manage to meetup. The don’t have a USA SIM card and texting wasn’t working very well. We finally metup later in downtown Long Beach and went for a walk along Shoreline Park near the LB Aquarium of the Pacific and the LB Convention Center.

We walked up to The Lion Lighthouse in the park and had a rambling conversation about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and life and stuff. As we talked there was a couple drinking, dancing, and eavesdropping a bit on our conversation. The girl joined in our conversation and was very excited about whatever our great philosophies were. The guy looked really bored! 😛

And then we drove back to my place. I put the top down on the convertible and it might have sprinkled just a little. Marta got the “vivid” experience in the more windy backseat. And the pictures can tell the rest of the story from here…

Sara and Marta sitting in the living room

Sara & Marta. Actually sitting in my living room. I’m pretty sure they will hold the record for foreign travelers who spent the least time in the house. What an unexpected night we’re about to have! (note their stuff, that they’re not going to see for the next 3 days, under the portrait of Bruce Murray)

Sara and Marta at the computer in Glenn's office

We played with the computer for a few minutes… and then I had the bright idea to go have dessert…

Photo of desserts in small plastic packages

Phoenix Desserts is open till midnight. So convenient. Sure I left the top down while we ate, but it only sprinkled a little. We had some yummy mochi and I forget what the other stuff is called. We just barely managed to refuse the server’s insistance on making us some fresh waffles!


Photo of my street closed by police. Photo from KABC-TV News

And then we drove home. Or tried to. It turns out police cars blocked every entrance to my street. It was 11:30pm and the officers told us there was no way we’d be allowed in, in less than 6 hours. Meanwhile Sara & Marta’s Chinese Tour Bus and hotel package to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and back, was departing from Chinatown at 7am. Photo: KABC-TV News.

What do you do at 11:30pm when you’re told you can’t go home for at least 6 hours?

We went to Target!

While at Target I called my mom who happened to still be awake. I asked her if we could come over and sleep for a while.

Photo of Sheila & Joe Zucman

Photo of mom & dad that was on a table next to the couch where I slept. Sara and Marta got to sleep in my childhood bedroom! We slept from about 1am – 5am and then headed back to see if Sara & Marta could at least get their stuff from the house before their bus left.

Marta & Sara looking at the menu at Starbucks

5:30am. 6 hours later. The police still wouldn’t let us go home. Earlier they’d said “no one in or out” and now they were letting cars out to go to work, but they said we still couldn’t go home, not even 1 person to get Sara & Marta’s stuff. When all else fails, go to Starbuck’s and hangout for a while. Sara’s phone was in my house, Marta had her almost-dead phone, but no charger – yay – free wireless charging at Starbucks!

RuRu & Angel at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Meanwhile in the middle of not being able to go home, RuRu and Angel from Taiwan who’d stayed over last week WhatsApp’d me a photo of them with their friend they’d metup with in San Francisco. Sara & Marta had FIVE DOLLAR bus tickets from LA to SF for a week from now… if they ever get to The Grand Canyon first!

Sunglasses, iPhone, Credit Card, bottle of water, and box of chocolates on a table

Marta’s sunglasses. Sara’s phone & credit card. By 6:20am the police still wouldn’t let us in or let us retrieve Sara & Marta’s stuff, so we decided we had to rush to Chinatown to try to make the bus. We made it to their 7:00am bus by 7:04 and it was still boarding. Yay, made it!

backpacks on a tiled floor

Sara & Marta probably only wound up spending 1/2 hour at my house. But their stuff got to enjoy this nice spot between the living room and dining room for 3 days! 😛

Sara & Marta leaving their lives behind in Poland to come visit America, then leaving most of their luggage in storage on the East Coast, and then leaving everything but the clothes on their backs at my house as they bused off to Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon made me think of George Carlin’s famous My Stuff monologue:

Candles and flowers by the side of the street.

It was a couple of days before Laura in the front house told me what had happened. It was a murder-suicide between 2 family friends who were 31 and 32 years old. This is a small shrine down the street.

White clouds against a blue sky

When I got home from dropping Sara & Marta off I still couldn’t drive onto my street, but I was allowed to park my car 2 blocks away and walk home. My talk at MMWCON (Mobility & Modern Web Conference) at UCLA later in the day would manage to happen after all. It was a awfully sad night for two families, a confusing night for us, and then a beautiful cloud-filled morning on earth.

Marta, Glenn & Sara on the sand at Venice Beach near the Venice Art Walls. Photo by Bruno / STP

Marta, Glenn & Sara. Saturday. After their 3 day tour of Las Vegas & The Grand Canyon, Sara & Marta were back. We metup at Venice Beach where they finally got their stuff back. Note Marta’s new “I heart LV” t-shirt. Apparently she just didn’t have anything else to wear. I charged Sara’s iPhone for her. Actually I sent her updates on the whole story via WhatsApp, which she could now finally read. Photo by Bruno / STP

It’s sad that Sara & Marta’s wonderful California visit was crossed by the tragedy of American gun violence.

Amazing how adaptive and resilient they are.

Sad that I didn’t have a chance to spend more time with them.

And so great to meet them.

Written by Glenn Zucman

BA, Psychology, University of Hawaii, MFA, Intermedia Art, Long Beach State. Host of American Public Media's "Border Patrol." Host of KBeach Radio's "Strange Angels." Interested in Identity Art that explores our Oracle-at-Delphi-like straddling of corporeal and virtual realms in our new media century. Civil rights in online space. 10 years...
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