The landlord greeted us at the front stoop. He looked like a replica of Ian Raymond from High Fidelity. Grey hair in a long ponytail. Old. Hipster suit and sans tie before hispters became mainstream. He spoke in monotone, but you could tell he despised us, his paying tenants. He went on about many, many things, none of it relevant. The parking space we’d get to unpack wasn’t the space we’d get afterward. We’d have to pay for a parking pass that allowed us in the parking structure across the street. The remote was extra. Welcome to L.A., pay on your way in, pay on your way out.
The anxiety was already full blown, but I worked through it. Heavy boxes of books, movies, games; all the things I took with me from Niagara Falls. It was more work than it was worth, but I was finally on my own, minus the boycut girl I was rooming as well as trying to fuck. Things felt free, but so constrained at the same time. It didn’t matter. I was out from under my parents, my parents who loved me unconditionally. I was lucky with them. I was less lucky with the simmering slut I chose as my partner in crime.
It took about an hour and a half to haul everything. Despite all my books, her shit was the heaviest. Her neo-pagan chest of scents, cards and other shit was the heaviest. God knows what mixture of religions she had chosen. When I attempted Wicca, I at least kept to Celtic. Not that I gave fuck then. I was an “atheist”, the religion of pompous annoyance. The only faith I had was love, and I’d be crucified with that belief further on in my future.
I could feel the shivers of the genetic defect in the 90 degree heat. No one has ever shivered so much in during California summer as I did. I was scared. Deep inside, everything was wrong. The lifting, the swaying ass of the roomie I would fuck within three days. The hell I’d put myself through for people who would later fuck me over.
I missed L.A., to be honest. Born and partly raised there, I missed the city. I missed the beach. The ocean. The giant world that was Los Angeles. As my dad said, it was like someone took New York City and took a sledgehammer to it. It was big as God was big, to steal from Fight Club. I still miss it.
As the months past, with the future ex-wife, with the roomie who got cuter as her male haircut got longer and more feminine, I came to despise the city. That could have been because my job tore my soul, but I was also still extremely political and I just made California out to be what the radio said: a hellhole of liberals, socialists and the unproductive. I’ve come to hate politics.
It was different. It was important. It was sunny and warm and always alive. It had things to do. Things to see. Places and people. Seeing a actor you loved walk down the street, or have to find another route because of some big awards show. Things happened in Los Angeles. Things happen to happen in Salt Lake City. A hero cop stopping a massacre or a musician overdosing. Salt Lake City is lucky to be important. Los Angeles made itself important. So what if it was full of cunts. It was and is alpha.
The roomie, Sammie, would look out our windows to the Hollywood sign sitting tall on the hills. She said it reminded her of why she came from the east coast to the west. Her dreams. Her wants. It reminded her to stay strong. I thought it was silly bullshit. Now, I think at least she had a dream. I had many dreams. Many different, conflicting dreams. Things so mixed up they never matched. No focus, just four limbs being pulled in many directions.
I would look at her, even when I hated her, as someone I fucked. Someone I had good times with. Even while she gained weight or went crazy, I’d want to get back in bed with her. She was the memory of a time without anything but what I wanted. To purse that again would be a death sentence, but it didn’t mean I couldn’t imagine. I should of know if my girlfriend future wife couldn’t give me that, I should of sent her packing.
Los Angeles still calls to me. It could die in a hail of gang gunfire and debt and war, but I’d love it still the same. And hate it still the same. Its dreams and the death of fantasy. Its hedonism with a political price. Its the beauty of urban decay and human tolerance of the worst vices. Its corruption in its most lovely form. One could die homeless and raped, and it would still be more of a life than what most people ever live.
I looked to the city as I drove away, future wife in the car in front of me. I thought I was escaping the downfall. I didn’t realize I was following it. I didn’t realize that home could be the worst parts of me. That my evils were my salvation. I tried to be good. I tried to be a citizen.
I couldn’t do it. I lost trying to win. I left me behind and found myself at the bottom of a grave.
I climbed out. I saw the gray clouds and the peak of sunlight.
What the world wants is people like me. What is says it wants is the dregs that walk lifelessly to sate imaginary ideals.
A friend just told me to give up the smoking. As I blew out some smoke, I didn’t give a shit. He hasn’t seen his penis since 1990.
I am Los Angeles. I am exactly what is.