Fourteen

After an adventure in Los Angeles,

I’ve fallen in love with Southern California more than ever. We had a long day, but driving back on a winding highway with the car lights, dark suburbs, and passing billboards as I talked with a best friend made me feel at home. The evening was warm, and we enjoyed the museum and Hollywood Boulevard as much as we could without coming home at an unreasonable hour. We complained how unorganized Los Angeles traffic is, but the city itself is a beautiful mess. In fact, I think I’m starting to fall in love with the messiness of L.A. the same way I fell in love with the messiness of New York City. Los Angeles, especially Hollywood, has this air of glamour, diversity, and optimism that Boston and my small college town lacks.

The people in Los Angeles are so diverse and so American, but not Americanized. I heard accents of all sorts talking about American food and admiring the icons and studies that created American dreams with their American smiles and American problems. These studios created a heaven that we all know is a big lie, but we aim for it anyways. Of course, there’s the flashing lights of souvenir shops and images of the spirit of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, or Elvis Presley everywhere. Their all-American smile seducing you to chase your dreams through rebirth and becoming a new person with a new identity that’s ready to be loved by all. I especially see Marilyn Monroe everywhere: beautiful people or places that have been trampled on and worn down by their own passions, yet they blossom more beautifully and mysteriously than everything and everyone around them. They are the vagabonds roaming the city’s shadows and the street artists dancing, singing, or back flipping around the names of America’s idols on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I could just watch the guitarist in front of American Eagle or the jazz trumpeter across the street play until my nostalgia is satisfied with smooth jazz songs or a haunting rendition of “Hotel California.” Everyone in Los Angeles here for different reasons, but for a moment, we were all dreaming in the same place.

I felt the magic today in the terrible roads, shabby downtown shops, and Hollywood lights underneath the Californian sun or the Santa Ana winds that hugged my soul. Still, as my soul stays in SoCal, I should remind myself that I’m leaving in six days for a cold, dull New England town. When I am reminded of that cold place, my comforting, bittersweet love for southern California–no different from a slow, simmering sunset—will remind me that I might check out of California, but I can never leave this beautiful mess. 

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