Constant setbacks and disappointments. You always get the sense you are in a mob of angry townsfolk, batting away their torches and pitch forks with a garbage can lid as you look for an alley to skulk off to. A ruckus. When a situation changes, it’s amazing how the air can get sucked out of a room. The lighting changes. It’s like when clouds perch in front of the sun. It’s like that. Then again, I am used to this in a way I hope most of you never understand. I’m always sort of waiting for the fall.
Outside the hospital the air is crisp and clean and smells of high school summers. I used to date a girl who lived on a street around here. I broke someone’s heart right around the corner. Broke it with one unforgiving swing of the hammer. Only teenagers are so cruel and sharpen their knives on other humans. Shooting a few rounds to make sure the firing mechanism still works. She’s probably happy somewhere anyway. Sometimes it’s a good feeling to be a footnote or a lost annotation in a boring summer, a boy some girl used to see between surfing dawn patrol and working at the mall.
I stop at the local liquor store, the place I used to buy booze when I was underage. It’s strange to stand somewhere you haven’t stood in a decade. The feeling was different. At 18, this place just made you root for the best possible night. A table of Coronas and Cuervo and Malibu Rum at a house we can’t understand is so expensive yet because life in the suburbs is on autopilot. Why wouldn’t we be drunk in a hot tub in a backyard more perfectly manicured than Pebble Beach? This is how everyone must live. Feeling your face go numb and talking about going off to school. Ugly, ugly, ugly. It was a peanut shell with no peanut inside. A facade that amateurs hide behind. To this day. To this very day, hiding. I just can’t. Give me the dirty streets and the human condition.
Some kids in a Tahoe are trying to buy liquor underage. I’ll let you decide if I played hero or adult. I’ll say one thing, when you turn your phone off you never know when you will end up at a high school party ready to jump off the roof like Almost Famous. That was not my destiny on this Saturday where I needed so badly just to turn off my head for a bit. I needed a solo mission to regroup.
Hours later I am helping a friend carry a giant chest across Main Street downtown. This will be a coffee table soon. Then we’re at a bar I have been meaning to try with people who won’t ask me questions or have opinions on who I am. I am a stranger in my home city and I love it. Bring me the strangeness on a platter and let me eat it medium rare. Let the blood run down my chin. I need to remember what the fight is for. What I am going for. What the point of all this is. Amazed how we refer to people as “work” friends and “old” friends and “new” friends. Friends works fine, doesn’t it? It’s an all-inclusive term, right? Like food on a cruise ship.
I get in an argument with a really cool dude about Helvetica. Yeah, the font. I am a digital producer. I am scum in a place like this. The good news is I am hell with a pen and years of filing down my ego with scotch and knowledge has left me confident I am nothing special. I can get along with anyone and I can laugh at anything if the company is good. One kid asks me about my blog and when I tell him it’s Lost Angeles, he gets a kick out of it. Always surreal when someone knows who you are. I imagine most as a bit disappointed when they see me. I write like I am much taller.
The bartender is very attractive and I really enjoy watching the lonely guys at the bar getting twitchy as last call approaches. Those skyscrapers that were your friends just an hour ago now represent catacombs filled with happy couples looking down and scoffing at the lonely drunk of the fashion district. I wonder what the bartender thinks. Is she tired of the attention or is it a nice respite from casting calls where people are bound to find something wrong with you? Maybe she loves this. It’s an audition where she always gets the part. The boys at the bar look like dogs cocking their heads at a sirloin swinging on a pendulum in front of the bottles of rye and mash.
I miss my fiancee in that moment more than I already did. If she was not in the desert right now she’d be laughing at the view. I am always picking out these scenes and showing them to her. She is always smarter than me and explaining it back to me in a way I never would of come to. I’m always wrong. I am not the better half. Now the skyscrapers are laughing at me. I don’t feel so superior. I’ll be going home to be lonely for a bit myself. Touche, Los Angeles. Touche. You caught me making fun of what I am again. Walking around like a couple of assholes.
There’s just no way to describe to you how the city looks to me right now. None of you would see it the same way even if we were standing next to each other. It’d be unique for you too. Every tilt of my head changes the song in my head. There are views where even Ryan Adams doesn’t feel contrived for the moment. Somewhere in a loft I hope Cameron Crowe is looking down studying me and writing down notes. For just the briefest, most private of moments I want to be dissected and explained. I want someone to shred me and tell me what I’m thinking. The phone never rings at that moment. Especially when it’s off.
My muscles feel charged. I want to careen off the sides of the Flower Street tunnel and disrupt the future filming of car commercials. I’m going to leave a mark. I’m going to stain the walls with every thought I am distilling and organizing. I think I am growing up. I’m learning to not self-destruct. I’m going to be strong this decade. I’m going to stop thinking it’s a coincidence I never back down and start realizing that it’s because I live for this. I’m going to get up again tomorrow and be present in my life. I’m going to tell people I love them and I am going to not let down people I shouldn’t let down. I’m going to re-evaluate everything. I’m going to move in all the best directions. I’m going to be quiet when I should be quiet and I am going to spin in circles when I hear a song that makes me happy. I’m going to tell that blonde I live with that she is beautiful every day until my tongue turns to dust.
High fives are in order to my “new” friends and apologies to the pool table for not making it by for a game. Sorry to the bartender for the headshrinking at her expense. I’ll turn my phone back on tomorrow. I promise.