It is the first day of the year 2016 and i am deliberately lost, walking across construction site-rubble, waterwards. Wherever there is water you will find me aiming towards it, it is in my system, i can’t help it. I stop at a ledge looming over a river, sit down on a sewer pipe and observe a man
rousing up the still morning water with his kayak. He, i and the faithful men collecting the sad, soggy and sparkly party remnants on the battlefield of new year’s day are the only ones awake at this hour. The atmosphere is drenched in white mist that settles on my lashes, the cold air jabs into my skin and nostrils.
Apart from fog, the air is heavy with disappointment – i mean it never really happens the way you expect it, but i really did not anticipate this. Yesterday when all the firecrackers went off and everybody started being happy on cue i disappeared into the little space capsule in my head where i can float all alone (because i kind of can find my silent space best when there is a lot of noise around me, but not aimed towards me).
I disappeared to make sense of what was happening. To make sense of the concept of a couple of tiny words strung one behind the other, having the power to change the whole year ahead. So i floated around a little, suspended in time and space, reasoning that if i stayed, maybe these fireworks would go on forever. Go on and i wouldn’t have to figure out how to navigate everything spread before me.
This is the scene playing in my head as our rented wheels hit the hot cement of Los Angeles – by the way, this is by no means one of the stories in which all is not as bad as it seems, it is more of a story in which everything is exactly as bad as it seems, but then again that doesn’t mean that there is no room for grace.
This all is fairly abstract, purely because i want it to be. I don’t intend to present you with a solution to some implied problem, there is none, no universal one for that matter, neither do i want to lessen this to a redundant revelation. It’s more of a funny, funny thing, because two moments of my life, so inherently different, could not exist without each other.
Los Angeles (first day)
So we enter, m. and i, gold-framed California. I like to believe California was created when something very sweet and something very bitter clashed and merged and released an innumerable amount of those atoms that make up nostalgia. Here nostalgia is essence and heritage, now is then and then is now.
We drive under palm trees, past scabby back-alley parking lots, thrift stores and the pink neons of a movie theatre – the oozy letters on the scoreboard announcing tonights showing of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. We have our first (of many) In-n-Out burgers and head off towards the hills. Past moms with prams in hand and aspiring actresses perspiring, ascending and descending the steep in their running shoes.
We go further until there are no people left, but for the occasional hollywood-tour-trolley that has small-towners cavorting through celebrity-lala-zoo. Labyrinthine pathways lead us higher, into the unending array of Beverly Hills mansions and just in time for sunset we find a spot that looks out upon the valley. A dusty dusk has descended upon glass, steel and palm trees. Grey particles allotted over a lilac mist. We twist our way back down the hills, heading for the ocean (see, there is this water-thing again) and drive up the coast into the night. David Bowie sings about Fame while i doze off.
Los Angeles (last day)
The vibe in Venice Beach tiptoes a fine line between flamboyant confidence and mental breakdown. I love it. Venice Beach is like a huge watering hole. An array of niches, very unlike each other, coexist and feed of each others energy. While we spend our evening here, our almost last day in California was spent at Santa Monica Beach and on Melrose Ave, with m. waiting patiently for me to find the perfect Vintage Harley-Davidson shirt (i found it).
As we leave Venice Beach at night, we decide to come back in the morning. It’s Labor Day Monday and the morning is white and cold and fresh and vacant. A surfer is swimming out into the water, a woman is walking her dog on the beach. Advertising shop owners start to line up the boardwalk, the street corner preachers of Venice Beach.
A lone seagull picks the last remnants out of a seashell. A girl searches for muscle beach and an old man invested in the runaways fringing Venice Beach asks for our contribution to their aid-program. We walk over to the skatepark, sit down on a bench, drink our coffee and watch a few skaters glide through the sunken pools.
There is almost never a clear solution to anything in life. But these kinds of things are – in my opinion – as good as one.