Rivers, especially this concrete one, factor into my writing often.  I grew up near two sides of this river.  When I lived with my mother in Cudahy, the river was without the beauty of the green hills.  When I lived with my grandparents in Atwater (near Los Feliz) there was lush greenery mixed with the concrete.

I remember the drive to my grandparent’s house vividly.  It was always just freeway and cars – 710 to the 5; until you made that turn, that small curve that opened up and showed you the hills of Griffith Park.  Sometimes the hills were vivid green and they made me gasp at their beauty. Sometimes they were scorched earth and my heart ached for the dead trees and brush.  You could see deer back then, delicately high-stepping their way along the sides of the hills.  They often gazed out at traffic, their big soulful eyes looking back at me.  They were free and I was not.  I was trapped in a metal box, hurtling along to what I called home.  They way back was always miserable.

Throughout my growing up, the rivers were there to comfort me, whether they were green from greenery or just algae and the run-off of toxic waste from the factories of Vernon and South Gate. On the South side, they were an escape.  To the North, they were a place to dream and write; to watch the blue herons and listen to the frogs.  They were a place to ride my bike, free and unfettered, feeling like the deer that lived in the hills nearby.

This concrete river is part of my soul now and so it finds its way into story or book – living, breathing, winding its way in the words I find to describe it.  It will feature prominently in my new short story, LORCA GREEN out in the upcoming LOWRITING anthology by Broken Swords Publications.

About Gina Ruiz

Teller of tales, writing about East L.A., tech, mobile, and historical fiction. PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship finalist 2013. Author of stories in Ban This! and Lowriting. Published poet. Writes a lot.