Los Angeles, Day Five

I’m in LA for a week. I’m going to try to write something about my trip every day. I hope you enjoy it.

The first thing I did on my fifth day in LA was watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones, because I am not an animal.

My Craigslist call for a tour buddy yielded no real results. The person living near the airport basically just wanted a free meal, and the student and sex-box never responded again. Instead, I decided to head back to the Pacific Ocean, so I could see it during the day. True, I saw it while driving along Pacific Coast Highway, but this time I would be able to devote my full attention to it.

Before that, though, I needed to refuel my rental car. The gas station I went to strangely had pumps that lacked the locking mechanism that lets you fill up your tank without holding the handle. It also only took cash and debit. The station was easily twenty cents cheaper than anywhere else, though, so I dealt with the odd nature of the place and went on my way. Gas in LA is way more expensive than gas in Chicago, by the way. By more then fifty cents per gallon.

The Pacific Ocean is amazing. Seeing it in daylight only made its scale more astonishing. Gazing across its expanse was mind-opening. After more than thirty years living deep in the center of the country, I was standing on the end of it. I’d travelled just over two thousand miles from my home and stood at a point where there was no more land I could cross. It was like I’d reached the end of the world.

I sat on some rocks near the shore and watched the beach. I marveled at surfers who rode waves that could swallow a person in an instant. I saw a crow fighting the wind and finally landing on the beach to pick out carrion from the sand. I saw families relaxing in the sun and people walking their dogs. People for whom the ocean may have become an everyday thing, no more surprising than a McDonald’s. Or, perhaps they woke every day and felt overcome by the grandeur. I could not say.

After watching the tides for several minutes, I took off my shoes and strode to the shore. Small waves lapped at my feet before a large one burst forth and was immediately upon me. It tugged at my legs, climbed quickly up to my knees and threatened to knock me down entirely. The pull of the ocean is hypnotic and deceptive, but also beautiful. At first, the ocean water felt cold and uncomfortable, but after a few waves I found it inviting. Refreshing. I felt alive for the first time in months, if not longer. I was excited. Inspired. I felt like I was a part of something.

The ocean is alive in a way that Lake Michigan is not, and can never be. It wasn’t all pretty. There were dead things, far too decomposed for me to make out, in the line of junk deposited on the beach during high tide. It marred the serenity of the shore, but it also made the ocean seem more alive. I could see the entirety of an ecosystem in play. Chicago and its suburbs seem insular and manufactured compared to the coast.

After spending time in the waves, I headed back to the rocks and began to write in my notebook as I waited for my my legs and the bottom of my shorts to dry. I watched the waves roll in and out gave the ink in my notebook time to dry. When the sheen on my words finally faded, I headed back to my car and returned to my hotel.

On the recommendation of a friend, I decided to visit The Bourgeois Pig, a cafe in the Franklin area of Hollywood. It was quite a place. Most of the cafe was dimly-lit and moody. I enjoyed the ambiance, though. It helped keep distractions at bay. It felt almost like opulence that had fallen into disrepair. Quiet music played in the background, and nearly everyone in the place had their eyes firmly glued to laptops. It at once felt like home and intimidating. One of my biggest concerns regarding writing is that I know how many people out there want to do it, and here was a cafe full of them.

Thinking “if they succeed, it’s one less chance for me” is a foolish way to go about living. I enjoy talking to writers a great deal. Talking out beats and dialogue help make a story better. Creativity begets creativity. Still, those sorts of thoughts crop up in my mind: if I miss a single opportunity, another one will never arise.

I ordered a sandwich and an iced chai and looked for a place to sit. There was an incredibly dark side room lit more by laptop screens than anything else, and it looked quite full. I found a sunken-in chair near the back of the cafe with a small table next to it and claimed it for myself. I checked into my flight home, ate my sandwich, and got to writing the post you’re reading now.

If it were possible, I would have stayed at the Bourgeois Pig for hours, but parking time limits prevented me from sitting there indefinitely. I reluctantly bussed my plate and headed back to my hotel. When I arrived home, I was surprised to discover that another friend in the Los Angeles area had time to spare. I headed to Pasadena to meet her for dinner.

She took me to a restaurant called SushiStop. I am not at all a fan of sea food, but she promised they had other food, as well. Indeed, they did. We split an edamame appetizer and while she dined on sushi I had mixed greens and chicken with udon noodles. It was good, but I was not very hungry. From there, we headed to Real Food Daily, where she got a slice of vegan cheesecake and I got a vegan double-chocolate cookie.

We returned to her place with our baked goods, and ate dessert while discussing the industries of books, films, and video games. We talked late into the night before I returned to my hotel to finish packing and prepared for my return home.

I’m not ready to leave. I still feel like I have so much more to do here.

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