Editor's note: To start things off, I'm going to use a word I see at signposts marking the beginning of a new journey. Be sure to comment your word suggestions for the next story at the end of the post!
Julie had always been an outsider. Since she and her boyfriend had moved from Wisconsin to Southern California there had been instant culture clash. Her Irish-Catholic upbringing seemed to clash instantaneously with the free-willed craziness of Los Angeles.
The entire city appeared to be covered with soot. This was new to her, maybe normal here, but new to her. The thin mist, like carbon copy fibers, covered everything from the roads; where such things were expected; to the cars; where it looks like it had rained pollution unapologetically on everything.
Even the McDonalds was different. They had guacamole burgers. Guacamole burgers were unheard of in Wisconsin, you see.
"Well, if Heather Graham can do it, so can I," she thought. Heather Graham was Julie's hero; a Wisconsin native, she had gone on to Hollywood fame, and had maintained both her beauty and sense of integrity.
Julie walked through the downtown streets, noticing the Hispanic population and all the strange and uncomfortable newness of it all. She felt very white, very pasty, and very uncomfortable.
A man approached her, in his mid-forties. He was dark, tall, and smiling. His ethnicity was hard to point out; maybe he was biracial? But, amongst all this strangeness and newness, she must have stuck out like a sore thumb. He seemed to be reading her perplexed facial expressions like a book.
"New around here, aren't you," he said in a friendly, deep voice.
"Um, yeah," Julie replied nervously, and began to walk away from him.
"I moved here when I was about your age. There's always new people here. I've seen it all. But there's one thing that they all have in common. The sky," he said simply.
"What?" she said nervously and paused.
"The sky's the same. No matter where you're from, no matter what you speak, the sky's the same here as where you're from. It welcomes everyone. Don't worry too much, okay?"
A little girl, no more older than 3, ran to him. Julie hadn't noticed her before because, well honestly, she had been looking at the tall man's faced and thought he was alone.
"Daddy," she said, "who is the strange woman?"
"Don't worry Sharon," said the man, "she's from the same sky as us."
"Oh," said Sharon knowingly. It was clearly apparent she had heard this before. Sharon smiled at Julie.
Julie smiled sheepishly at Sharon, mouthed "Thank you" to the man, and walked on, feeling better.
She looked up, and for the first time, felt welcome in the new city.