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"That way," the policeman replies.
The kid jumps onto the board and is gone. He pushes once or twice with his right foot to build a little speed, and he disappears into the distance. Easy as that. He rides the board as if it were propelled by a little motor. The wheels are part of his body. They were on the bottom of his feet when he was born. The airport is crowded, but the kid is past me in a whoosh as he zigs and zags and cuts and turns and does not stop. No steering wheel. No hands needed. All balance.
I watch with the amazement of a man who has seen a 12-foot rabbit spring out of a 1-foot top hat. The temperature is 75� at 11 o'clock at night. I can see at least one palm tree. I can see motorized confusion everywhere in the airport snarl. I cannot see the kid anymore. The kid is gone.
I am an East Coast guy. I am back in Southern California again.
The landscape is different. The people are different. The pace is different. The life is different. No matter how many times I make the coast-to-coast trip, I am still nearly 3,000 miles from home.
I am from Boston and have lived my entire life in New England. Each trip to Southern California somehow seems to be a day off from school. Indoors changes to outdoors. Darkness changes to light. Thought is replaced by action. Old becomes not only new but also new and improved. Button-down becomes hang loose. Books become movies. Fun becomes fun-fun-fun 'til her daddy takes her T-bird away.
"Excuse me," I say. "Where does Magic Johnson hang out and is it possible he'll be hanging out there today?"
"Excuse me," I say. "Is that all there is to that bikini?"
I am the perpetual tourist. I visit the place four and five and six times a year to watch sports events, and I still feel as if I am stepping off the overnight plane from Yugoslavia. The commonplace is still different. Look at what these people eat! Listen to the way they talk!