Thursday, July 14, 2011

los angeles mon frere

untitled by littlegirlblue

i am finding this visit to be difficult. my first reaction was an immense fright - that of having returned to a howl of a year i fought so hard to escape. and i have escaped. but i find everywhere in this city echoes of the weeks upon weeks i spent in a hazed, confused, displaced-ness. one that everyone who met me was forced to hand-hold and hug me through. if ever i wrote a story about LA i think i might called the displaced persons camp. of course it wasn't quite like that. it was more like a breather-space. in hindsight it's obvious i needed a big long breather from being 'me', and i need to just go be someone else for a while until i found my way again. it brings me no solace to know that 'finding my way' was not in any way an act of my doing but something of a benevolent stroke of circumstantial luck (otherwise known as: faith) that kicked me along to where i found more than my fair share of happiness. alas.

alas, LA scares me. it reminds me of too many sleepless nights trying to answer a question people incessantly asked of me in those days: so what are you gonna do? (or it's more devious permutation: so what are you gonna do now?)

my second thought is a great surge of happiness. not exactly the happiness of 'victory', but the happiness of 'triumph'. of 'having overcome' <-- that happiness. the happiness - which is really a form of well-adjusted, well-deserved pride - is sourced in my having (one way or another) made it out of a pit. i found an answer to the question: so what are you gonna do? (or rather: it found me). but i found, i took it in my arms, it was my child and i reared it as such. i gave it every waking hour (and i was always awake) and nursed it until it was a thing that existed. what i mean is i took it from being an inchoate possibility, a fantasy of sorts, a dispassionate: yah whatever, let's try this one out to being my reality. who i am. what i'm doing. it's a vector now. a quantity that has not just magnitude but also direction. where it goes is immaterial. LA is/will be/might remain/never was/was what it was because there were no arrows. no directions. it was just a hollow space to sweat out all my filth. to remember who i am is so much more than my job, and at the same time, a future is not about a job, it should be about a direction. about an identity, and that's what needed to be revisited. identity.

and i suppose that's where i remember the taste ('ta'am' in farsi) of LA; since it's also a place i remember as being full of friends. the bestest of friends. which makes sense i suppose, if we believe (or at least hope) that our identity is shaped to some extent by the smiles and caresses of those we love. i like that thought. i am a man of my own making, but it doesn't take anything away from me to also be a man made of others' generous lovingness. so anyway, there's that too.

these things make LA difficult for me, a difficult place to be.

when i am hear i become hyper-self-conscious. i develop a terrible need to constantly prove to myself that i do actually have my own life now. that everyone's time and love and patience wasn't wasted and that i did sort myself out. i suppose it's the result of being out of my own environment. away from my bookshelves (yah, the library's grown) that prove that i've learnt a few new tricks, away from my routine and activities and evidences that i am in fact something new (or anew). when i am here i must rely again on... just me. identity ;

[yesterday in the food mart; it was full of persians and greeks and israelis and indians, everyone speaking some foreign language, smashing their shopping carts into each others' because that's what you do when you're ethnic and over 50; in the midst of all this, by the deli, a tall blonde girl, the figure of a model, and the face of one too. stood quietly amongst the shouting and smashing, waiting her turn with her legs crossed. long blonde hair like a smudged halo and half the room just stated at her thinking: what are you doing here? and in my head i could hear: so what are you gonna do? so what are you gonna do now? what do you want? what things? where to?]

there are other things too. i suppose now is not the time to get into them.

meanwhile, i'm struck by how wonderful it is for a place to have such a sense of... placefulness. for somewhere to exist as a real place. not just as a bunch of roads and a few photographs. but as a place, a real kingdom, with an identity and an entire mythology that has grown around it. LA. has long joined the list of Kingdoms that have their own mythology: Seattle. Haifa. Shanghai. Brisbane. Adelaide...

for some reason this makes me happy. the reason is it makes me feel alive, and i don't feel that way often enough.

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