Life, Travels

“Oh, California in the Summer”

I’m missing Los Angeles so terribly while I listen to Jack’s Mannequin. I jotted down bits and pieces of this post back in August, it just feels right to share it in this space, almost making it more real in the present. And the pictures I took are damn beautiful.

Arriving in LAX by myself after the most hilarious coincidence of running into Becca and Michael in security and then next to me on the flight was- liberating? This feels like when I would take the subway alone back in the Bronx and make my way to Manhattanville Coffee. Somehow I know where to be. Or I can pretend I do.

I don’t stay in hotels much. I don’t want to be there anyway. I drop my personal item stuffed with clothes, Saint Savoy shoes hanging off the straps, and I’m at Eightfold. I splurge for my favorite, Ippodo matcha. The people here look like what you’d think L.A. artists and writers look like. It’s too pretentious. But the baristas smile genuinely and the natural light is cleansing. It’s like everything in Orlando is so much darker in comparison.

It’s really nice here, alone, on Sunset Blvd. My first stop, a place to mentally land before taking a long walk. It’s chaotic and hot. And so is the 1.3 mile to The Broad after popping into the little shops around Eightfold and tacos at Guisados.

I’ve waited years to experience one of Kusama’s Infinity Rooms. On this day: I’m thankful for my independence and bravery. I’m thankful for warmth and my strong legs and kind strangers. I’m thankful I researched how to see this exhibit in advanced, and that I was lucky enough to skip an hour of my wait time. I’m thankful and present. Here, with The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away. And later, some of my favorite Basquiat and Barbara Kruger pieces.

I’m sitting outside The Broad, and giggle as this woman has her significant other take adorable pictures of her in front of this wall. She looks over. “Do you want some too?! Here, stand there, let me hold your sweater! Okay this is a good angle. Okay look that way one more time?” And I’m already having a great time in L.A. I’m glad I wore cute shoes.

The Last Bookstore is down the street, and I’m weaving between people that are probably out of work early. Meeting up with Marisa feels like a dream. We’ve known each other since we were Pierce the Veil obsessed kids on opposite ends of the country. Now we’re Pierce the Veil slightly-less-obsessed adults and she spent the day with me on my first day here, telling me about L.A and her work.

Camp Hollywood is a different world. My first day here I barely dance and the dances I do have are not good with one exception. As if I’m outside of my body and can’t control my rhythm and can’t hear the music.

There are too many people doing prelims. I don’t expect to make finals.

I don’t make finals. Not even close. And I was yanked around a bit more than I could handle and still keep a pleasant face. Maybe I’m fragile. Or maybe I need to go to the beach…

I’m going to the beach. But first, Jean Veloz. The most vibrant the little lady with experiences I could listen to for hours. She leans in for a picture and tells me I have beautiful hair. I’ll treasure that memory.

The water is more refreshing than I expected it to be. It’s foggy and the sunset is hidden, but the wind makes it nice. And this is why I don’t wait for anyone when I travel. This is where there’s magic. By myself in Santa Monica. I have coffee breath and I’ve missed the beach so much I could cry.
A nice stranger took this photo. She said there was something about me with the waves, perfectly centered. She waved me over to share it. Are all of you like this here?

I would name all the people I had lovely dances with this weekend but I couldn’t pick favorites if I tried. I finally wore that purple dress. “You look very beautiful.” I just know I had more fun than I deserved and I’m grateful for all the cool folx I met, like Cami, and especially one who saved me post-Dorian and flight cancellation. “Until when!? You’ll be here for Atomic! Oh my God, come to Strutters! Come to Strutters!” So I’m going to Strutters.

Lunch before Atomic Ballroom with James and Augie, and a couple stops in Orange County along the way. Am I- Am I a California Girl now? Somehow this is my life. Also, this Tex-Mex place was delicious. I tell her I’m “stranded and inconvenienced and having just the worst time here in sunny SoCal”. She says I love being “inconvenienced”

“Oh! You walked all the way down there!?” I’ve been gone for an hour.

It’s a bright blue and Orange day. Being nosy. The trees are moving and something somewhere is on fire. Isn’t it always? But it’s going to rain soon and I took the best walk around the hills. James is a lifesaver and I owe him a million more thank yous. Thank you. Only 999,999 to go.
He’ll later let me sit in on some of his privates and rehearsals and tell Natalia I’m a very good dancer after I half embarrassingly mentioned I didn’t get to ask her to dance earlier. California smells so sweet and I can’t wait to go back.

I spent the night in the Atomic balboa room, and then after browsing through way too many thrift stores, danced at Strutters Ball. I don’t remember many of my dances, but he was right. It is a special place. And that teriyaki was delicious.

I can’t pretend my departure was as smooth as Portola’s espresso, but the In-n-Out burger bursting with onions did make the wait in LAX bearable.