The 36 chapters of Hopscotch are divided among three geographic routes — Red, Yellow, and Green – and 10 animated chapters. Taken together, they tell the story of Lucha, Jameson, and Orlando, beginning with Lucha’s car crashing into Jameson’s motorcycle. As she leaves the scene of the accident, she remembers how her parents died in a car accident, leaving her in the care of her grandfather, the first one to move to Los Angeles from Mexico. Through him she discovered a love for puppets and soon found herself in the company of Orlando and his wife Sarita, puppeteers and musicians who create work far on the fringe of the city.
As Jameson leaves the scene of the accident, he remembers a near-death experience of hitting a deer while driving a snowy New England road. That experience drew him radically inward but fascinated by the workings of the universe, which led him to move to Los Angeles to work with the Jet Propulsion Lab on further scientific research.
Jameson finds Lucha again rehearsing with Orlando on a new piece based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Shocked to see Jameson again, Lucha nevertheless accepts his invitation for a drink on a friend’s nearby rooftop bar. The two begin to fall in love; their connection feels cosmic, and they decide to get married. On the day of their wedding, Lucha gives him the simple gift of a red notebook to chart all his innermost thoughts and feelings, the ones that he doesn’t even want to share with her. Upon grasping the notebook, Jameson feels a crisis come on: what is the point of discovering the inner workings of the universe if our own brains are utter mysteries?
“How do you know you’re in love with me, when there are so many you’s and so many me’s?”
As the couple establishes a life together and Jameson’s work becomes increasingly obsessive, Lucha loses a connection to puppet-making and starts to feel aimless. She consults a fortune-teller, who tells her of a call that she will receive that will answer all her questions. One day the call comes, and the mysterious voice on the other end of the line says, “A thousand streets lead into one great road, and no gate blocks your way.”
Lucha can’t get that thought out of her mind; she finds the fortune-teller again, but she offers no further clue. Orlando’s wife Sarita dies, and when Lucha tries to comfort her friend, he awkwardly confesses his feelings for Lucha. Lucha pulls away; Orlando, not knowing what to do, follows the example of his hero, the author Julio Cortazar, and moves to Paris to start a new life.
“A thousand streets lead into one great road, and no gate blocks your way.”
Lucha is in despair. Weeks, months, even years go by with no indication as to where Jameson could be. One day as she is driving and at a complete traffic stand-still, Lucha finds a headband transmitter in the car. She puts it on, and suddenly is host to a number of hellish visions: the demonic red notebook; a vision of Jameson being unfaithful and abducted by the husband of his lover; and the River of the Dead, where Lucha is powerless to rescue Jameson. She rips off the headband and, in a moment of clarity, remembers the line from the phone call: “A thousand streets lead into one great road, and no gate blocks your way.” The streets clear, and she begins to drive. Waiting for her at her door is Orlando, returned from Paris.
They begin a new life together—getting married, adopting a child, and starting a successful new musical duo. Visions of the past occasionally haunt them, like a motorcycle or Jameson’s notebook that mysteriously returns to her possession. The scribblings and images do nothing to solve the mystery of what happened to him – and at this point in her life, Lucha accepts that she will never know. In a trance, she is drawn to a phone, far off the beaten path, in an abandoned warehouse. She picks it up and finds herself speaking the words: “A thousand streets lead into one great road, and no gate blocks your way.”