The niceties up to that point had been ideal. Stepping outside of the suite at Staples afternoon sunlight poured in through the massive walls of windows lining the stadium. I felt like a million bucks. I had all the best songs stuck in my head. It was just that kind of afternoon. I kept smiling which I assumed meant I knew summer was coming. Like it was a secret or something and I didn’t want to ruin the surprise for the rest of the city. I was packing some happiness to spare.
The game tightened and with 3.5 seconds left as Richardson banked in a desperation three pointer. He pumped his fist and the Suns celebrated like school girls upon finding out their algebra test had been canceled. I sort of knew the night would get magical. The Suns were committing a cardinal sin. They were not acting like they’d been there before. Surely, they had seen the replays. They must have known what championship teams do. The Lakers did not box out on the Suns’ three long range attempts. The Suns did not pay attention to that transgression.
As Kobe threw up an airball, Ron Artest outhustled the entire Suns team as he cut into the lane and threw in a buzz-beating lay up. Ron had made an awful mistake of clock management just minutes before, squandering a fresh 24 with an errant three point attempt. No one will remember that now. The stadium nearly exploded. It was the Hollywood ending Laker Nation lusts for.
My first instinct was to sprint into the streets. Apparently you can run around with a glass of scotch in public if the Lakers win. People were hugging and swirling around like tumbleweeds in from of LA Live. I worried about too much celebration. The series wasn’t over. Not by a longshot. Still, you have to celebrate when life offers you a celebration. I yelled short bursts into the crisp air. Sometimes it would be “Lake Show!” and sometimes “Kobe!”, but I believe there was a seventeen minute period where I just ran around like a child with my arms out like an airplane repeating “Ron Ron” over and over. I knew the guy would have a moment from the time I saw his Afghan Woman video. The guy is the best kind of maniac. He’s the kind who is amazing to have on your team.
At this point, the timeline seemed to stop. I just sat down on some grass in front of the Convention Center staring down Fig at the city. It has come a long way since my days living down here. Where it once was gray and undeveloped, now a circus of light and sensory exhilaration. The ice had melted in my scotch and I figured I’d just sit here a while and enjoy the commotion. Looking up, there were twenty spotlights darting around the low hanging clouds from the morning rain. It was this backlit taupe sky with blue buildings poking around under it.
It’s so strange to see so many smiling people in one place. On any given night there is a tremendous amount of ambivalence. Not for me, not now. I needed some music with synthesizers and electronic drum beats. I needed a camera on me. I needed some eyes. Someone out there had to be paying attention to me paying attention. I can’t explain it.
I took to the parking lot and called Dave and we talked for a good while. He is at a bar in Kentucky kicking off the wedding weekend of an old friend. We’re discussing lots of things. I can’t help thinking he is so close to the Maker’s Mark factory. I have “Surrender” by Cheap Trick stuck in my head. The groom gets on the phone and the weight of fifteen years of California comes down out of the midnight canopy and just crushes me. I remember this guy unloading drums into the garage and wondering if we’ll ever make it through a song without one of us fucking it up. I remember him coming to USC to help me with my short films. Making him follow me as I drank and smoked and talked about how “sick” shit would look. I was a writer and I would never have survived the camera classes without him. He’d help me get whatever the hell was in my head out. If anyone has a copy of Junebug, my student film, I need you to get it to me. I want to watch it. I want the catharsis!
Finally, some music with synthesizers. Ichiro knew what I needed. The city points me home. There is no one left to call on the phone. All I have left to do is sleep.