Today, she is soft and gray and not the fiery beast I describe in Part 1. Visitors to Los Angeles are often disappointed with May and June. Where’s this eternal sunshine? But Angelenos know to get out and hike during May Gray or June Gloom. The onshore flow won’t last. High pressure systems will build over the Great Basin and we’ll be in an oven for months to come. Today’s gray in Deukmejian Wilderness Park is enough to keep a fine mist on my glasses.
(There I go—I’m so annoyed by the masculine that even typing the name of the place is disgruntling. Why is the park named for a man when it is so obviously feminine?)
Regardless of my prickliness, the whole reason I made today’s journey was to view the park’s monument to testosterone. A tiny part of her that is distinctly male. Perhaps I’ve put this on my list of favorite LA places because I wish to make peace. I didn’t know the backstory of the ring of stones when a friend first took me there. The boulders have been replenished and replaced from time to time over the ten years I’ve been visiting, but they mark the first peak on the easternmost trail of the park. From this promontory that juts over the Crescenta Valley, you can normally see the Verdugo Mountains, and on really clear days, the ocean. Not so today—echoing my sentiment that males and females cannot understand each other.
When I reach the mini-stonehenge, there is time enough alone to contemplate the backstory. At a gathering in another part of the city, some jogger friends and I were describing this hike to a woman who said she used to live in the area. When we mentioned the stone corral, she laughed and said, “I know that! My brother built it.” Imagine that lonely teenage summer, when a pimply boy hiked this peak every day and carried stones to build an under-appreciated masterpiece. Their parents were worried. He was chronically late for dinner and came home tired and dirty. Then eventually, he revealed to them this creation.
Having raised teenage boys, I find this endeavor such an impressive outlet for the crazy buildup of testosterone that they endure. In my moments alone in the circle, I think of my sons—not just as extensions of the beloved creatures I relished in their youth, but as the grown men they are today. They are both this thing I often misunderstand—the male. I wanted boys both times and, without finding out beforehand, I instinctively knew they would be. A tiny part of me that was distinctly male. I remember thinking as I watched them grow—I will see the world as they do and understand.
But I don’t. The more they grow and separate, the more they belong to the unfamiliar—as it should be. I’m confident they are not that kind of man, in the sense that they are not disrespectful or uncaring or bullying. Still, how do they see the world—and themselves in it? I’d be lying if I said my years with them has made me understand.
Recently, I’ve enjoyed meeting with a group of women that tried to take over the world. Okay, maybe not take over, but peacefully solve its problems. There was indecision. There were disagreements. There were also respect and a genuine consideration of others’ feelings. And then we fell apart over something personal.
As with so many social divisions that are staring us in the face today, the way forward has to include both sides. Even if, at the moment, the path ahead is too cloudy to see.