I have no romance about this city. Los Angeles. To be fair, I have no romance about anyplace, except Belgium. Maybe that’s my problem. It doesn’t matter about the low buildings, the tan and alabaster stucco houses, the wide, empty streets that go dark with oil and slick with a lack of lighting. It’s not the girls with their tight neon dresses or the boys with their flat brimmed hats. It’s never the sunglasses or the faint smell of sweat and pollution. It’s just me. A lack of romance.
The palm trees, though, the way they sway at night, like little black clouds tethered to the street…I could have romance about that. When I drive down Sunset, after late grocery shopping, an after hours run, with my sneakers on, I can’t feel the pedals with these shoes on and I drive and I worry that I’ll cut my clutch and the rich guy behind me in his big old sleek black hummer will run me over, flatten me out and then I’ll never get to romance about the palm trees. Or the mountains. I could romance about the mountains. But not during the day when they are brown and dusty- crinkly, like dried leaves. At night when they are navy and spotted with lights, dark piles against the empty sky. They cage in things, dreams and worries, they trap them in the various valleys, making this the manifest destiny. Come here, snatch a dream out of the sky and make it your own. There are plenty to be found; the air is thick with ripe, honest dreams.
Then I worry again, because I am young and there shouldn’t be this lack of emotion. When I was even younger, so young it is an embarrassment, I had plenty of emotion. More than I could handle, more than should be allotted to one person. There is a human to whom I owe an apology for his empty life, I stole all his feeling and padded my own with it. And then everything was too much. I was always too happy, too bright, until the hormones hit and then I was too moody, too prone to fights and yelling. To tears. If you were to ask me now about any of it, the living and feeling, I would hardly remember a thing. There was an incident with Minnie Mouse at Disney World, and there was the thing I did at my grandfather’s funeral- listen, I didn’t know the man, had never seen him. I’ve since apologized for my ignorance, my lack of compassion. But these are it. Those are my memories of childhood. I have flashes of things, items that I recognize- a tent, a hula skirt, a baby lion costume or a sequins daisy tap class outfit- but none of these hold memory.
There are even less things I remember about being an adult. I remember making a lot of mistakes with boys- in closets, indoor tents, with harsh words and embarrassing emails, but I have yet to develop any real feelings about romance, the type with men, to believe in anything, to feel anything. And I am nervous, now that I live where Chandler did, now that I’m in the air cave of dreams. There should be something. If it’s not men, it should be location. And where better to than Los Angeles? Maybe New York has something behind it, more devotion or love, but who gives a fuck about New York? The hills. The sun kissed sepia tint on the signage, and the bare shoulders of every youth. The ocean, when I am near it and the parks when I am not. The sprawl of buildings, how much concrete there is- palm trees- cacti. Cacti. What on earth is a more foreign, insane plant? How can I not feel something deep in my heart, in my gut for a cactus planted in a front yard, surrounded by desert flowers, taller than the house itself, thin and wiry, signaling back to its home planet: “It’s safe here. There’s oxygen.” I can feel something. Even if October isn’t golden. Even if the river is just concrete with a tablespoon of water through it. This is home now. The romance will grow.