I normally don’t do this, but after serving nearly seven years in LA-LA, I decided to skip the shortcuts the other night — and take the long way home. It’s rare, but I felt like I had nowhere to be. And no one — was waiting for me.
By now, I had thrown myself into a few affairs; and for while, each would fool me into thinking that my life was somehow made better: Elevated. And I would dash across town, using shortcuts, to get myself tangled up in my lovers’ limbs, stories, messes and hair — just so that I could get distracted from the mundaneness that happens after one starts taking her breathing for granted.
The men wouldn’t last: They had “their own set of problems”. They too — were serving their time in LA-A. And they would go away, taking shortcuts out of my limbs, my stories, my messes. My tangled hair.
So many of them had left, during the last seven years, I would start confusing my heartache for being alive. And I would crave this chronic state of getting over a man — instead craving the love that I had never actually received.
“This one — is for the sake of the departed,” I thought when choosing my route, in my mind, while simultaneously starting up my car.
I was leaving the West Side of the city which runs in its own timezone depending on how many people are trying to get through traffic — to their own shortcuts — and into the limbs, the stories and the messes that wait for them in other distant neighborhoods. After nearly seven years in LA-LA, I had learned how to wait out the crowds: not because I dislike serving my time amidst humanity; but because I prefer not to do so — amidst the worst of it.
So, by the time I was choosing my route the other night — while simultaneously starting up my car — I had avoided the traffic and the worst of human behavior that comes with it.
I looked in my rear view mirror, West bound.
“Remember that departed?” I thought while seeing the neighborhood I had started to explore in a company of a man full of stories and messes.
I looped around the block, but then realized:
Love had never really lived there.
So, I got back onto Venice — and started heading East.
Venice was moving, speeding at times. I saw the tired faces of other drivers taking their shortcuts, after serving enough time on the West Side to avoid the traffic and the worst of human behavior that came with it. They seemed focused: in the know.
A pretty blonde in a well-aged red Jeep seemed to sense my curious gaze, studied me for a split second: She saw that I was meaning well, smiled tiredly and took down her hair, out of the tiny ponytail at the base of her neck.
“That’s my girl!” I thought, speeding past her in the other lane. My windows were down: I wanted to taste the incoming marine layer, crawling in like a giant wet tongue — and to outrun it, while heading East. I slid open my sunroof, and the wind immediately swooshed inside.
I took down my hair.
The Melrose District came up on me quite quickly, despite my taking the long way home; and it greeted me with heavier pedestrian traffic and the smell of anything else but the Ocean. Joggers in stylish clothing, smart enough to wait out the heat, strutted along the crooked pavements. Pretty Jewish girls in modest, long skirts somehow reminded me of the old country. Sporty mothers with yoga asses: What made them flock to this ‘hood? And girls, in gladiator sandals or sparkly stilettos, smart as whips, chasing their bargains along Melrose:
They weren’t a breath of fresh air, no; but a mouthful of something very specific.
Normally, I would take a shortcut here. Instead, I obeyed the residential speed, turning into the less travelled streets with open-mindedness; and I let them surprise me with memories.
“And remember that one?” I thought suddenly, swinging past a lavender sign of a restaurant resilient enough to serve its time for the last seven years, in LA-LA. I had first come here with another departed, even though love — had never really lived there.
“Or this?” I was sitting in an alley, passing a funky yoga studio in which I had once fallen for a boy. He wouldn’t last: He had “his own set of problems”. And he would go away — run away, actually — taking shortcuts out of my life.
I took the long way home. I never planned for it, but after serving seven years, here — has become my home. And history was written everywhere.