Monday, October 22, 2018

Los Angeles Lately // A Weakness Found on 2nd St.

Me, turned slightly, looking down within a lobby that feels nearly haunted at such a sinful, dying hour.
His hands quick in playfulness upon the glass of the door, startling a laugh right out of me.

3 seconds later.
The knob of the door turned slightly, opened just enough to let him, the future ghost of my past, in.
His hands quick around my waist, my hand on his handsome face, we nearly trip on our ascent up the stairs as he tries to kiss me and laughs in my ear.

5 minutes later.
The click of a light suddenly blackening the room.
His warmth as I rest my face along his chest; he holds my hand, I hold my breath as time stops.

Six hours later.
A shift beside me, him pulling me close, his voice raspy as he calls for me in terms of endearment.
Shared whispers between our close faces - he doesn't know it, but I always give him the better pillow.

Several moments later. 
I ask him what his weaknesses are, because it's become the question I now ask and wonder of people. He laughs before realizing my seriousness, though it's the light and curious sort of seriousness, and not at all stern or in want of something sturdy.

He names three of them, two of which I never would have pegged him for. I think of dinner, now an eternity ago. How he sat across from me and asked repeatedly what thoughts were falling upon the pages of my mind. How he knew I was trying to figure him out. Always trying, as if he is a walking equation that is a means to one end. There's not much to me he said, which was either an honest promise or a pretty, boring lie.

It occurs to me that we usually settle and make men into equations, rather than letting them be the stories they really are because an absolute, black and white answer seems to hurt less than a story that's left to interpretation. One plus one equals you and I. But you and I are two stories that cannot be told with one word.

I asked him to name his weaknesses -- it was my attempt at not making him an equation.

He opted to ask me what was on my mind, and I told myself that such question was him believing, without hesitation, that I'm not a simple equation but an entirely unwritten story.

The only answer I had as to what I was thinking was You. Although I spared him the dramatics of honesty and simply told him that it's always So much. So much soaking my through the pages of the library within my head.

Had he reciprocated my question on that particular morning, asking me what my weaknesses are, it would have been the same answer as every single time he's ever asked me what's on my mind: You.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Los Angeles Lately // Fall

Fall is finally here. Even if I'd been locked away for the last year without any recollection of how much time had actually passed, I'd know the season simply by how hot the air weighs on my shoulders and how dry its breath is between my fingers and on my skin.

The sun is lazier than ever in Los Angeles at this time of year, which is another dead giveaway of the times. She sleeps early and wakes early. For people, such routine is an indication of productiveness, but it is quite the opposite for her. In the morning you can tell just how much effort it takes for her to lift herself up to the sky. She is nearly unwilling. If she had no gratitude or empathy whatsoever, I am sure she'd take all of fall and winter to sleep. In the fall mornings, her light lingers like a spill upon a floor, seeping through my window, and she stirs a chill -- not quite to the bone, but enough to graze the sides of my face to a hushed pink.

The folks from back East revel in the warm goodness of Los Angeles all throughout the spring and summer months as they sip cold drinks from glamorous glasses at the bar off Ocean Avenue in February. They laugh shallow laughs and call her home, and state the cliche that we're all thinking: That there is no place like her. Yet come October, all the same folks are quick to compare her to New York, Boston, Philadelphia. Suddenly, they regard the consistency of her shine as redundant and predictable. Suddenly, her eternal season is not a season and simply a temporary, stagnant state of mind. They find themselves bored and longing for the Eastern coast and its ability to tell time with severity.

But I love Los Angeles most now, and not because I first loved the winter months of summer in San Francisco. While the rest of the world makes its most dramatic changes in weather, she remains the same. In a place whose characters are non-committal in nearly every regard, her one promise of season is something I holdfast to. I need the warmth most at this point in the year as it begins to wrap up, leaving some of the hopes I'd had at the start behind in places I could not discover in a frame of 365 days.

Here's something else about her consistency: The year never quite feels as if it's run out. She doesn't follow a conventional timeline. Her endings run right into new beginnings with such rapid and familiar succession. So, when I feel most that I didn't accomplish what I intended to do in a year, there is no snowstorm acting like an exclamation point to the panic of needing to check things off a list. There aren't leaves turning over into sudden death to remind me of what my hopes might look like if they were a tangible substance. The sun simply keeps pulsing on to the beat of that blessed redundancy, and each day is a new slate resembling that of the former, but there are no same days no matter the temperature outside.

It should be noted, however, that her fall season shares one--and only one--commonality with all other places: The fall season is deep with loneliness. A loneliness whose chill goes beyond the bone. It is one thing to exist within a snowstorm from behind a glass window overlooking a sleeping city below; to yearn for the warmth of another body to endure the pent up months with. But it is entirely another to exist within an eternal summer without someone there as a second witness to the impossibility. Freedom only comes to be when there is someone to share it with, when it is something to be had. Living within a perpetual state of summer by oneself is when consistency mirrors the notion of limbo. Only then do I find myself verging on the mentality of East coast folks, because the rain and the snow that come with the fall and winter months give real reason for the cut of the cold, which masks the internal bone chill of loneliness or aloneness, or both.

That said, no one ever claimed the eternity of Los Angeles as perfect. There is nothing quite like her, of course. So we've said and will say again. But there is also nothing like perfection, and she certainly isn't that. But as with people, I'd prefer a consistent goodness, a warmth that's both empathic and gracious, a bit of predictability for emotion's sake, and a jagged edge around all that goodness to mark a character of uniqueness and failure and growth.

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Portrait of Imperfection

You do not need to have yourself figured out to own who you are or know who you are. Loving another person for life isn’t about loving them because you know them. It’s about committing oneself to learning them for the rest of your life. So it goes with oneself. 

When your own flawed and beautiful humanity sinks in, and you realize you are in the gloriously messy battlefield of becoming, walk into rooms knowing that you have just as much right to be there as everyone else. Do not apologize for the space you take up. I cannot remind myself of this enough. Do not hold back your booming voice, attempt to justify your unique softness, or shed the layers that pack in the essence of who you are. Do not compromise the flame of your passions. Only you can ignite that fire, rely on its resiliency, or expunge it on your own accord. 

Don’t settle. Settling is lying to yourself. It is to withhold not just from your own life but from the lives of others, as well. Do not let yes and no become blurry and grey. Do not deprive either word of the boundary line they require to set the pace for your life. Learn to live within boundary lines so that you can flourish uninhibited. Know why your values are your values — anyone can claim anything, but not everyone can articulate why. 

Don’t believe the lie that equates pain with love. Love comes with pain, but it remains wholly its own, unparalleled. Just as you have the power to inflict pain, you are not pain nor are you destined to remain a perpetrator of it. 

And when love comes around—the good sort where pain is simply made up of the normal wear and tear of two humans wading through life together—stick with it. Don’t dwell in what ifs out of boredom or fear or selfishness. Don’t, for a second, anticipate the mundane. Let the mundane be as it will. Pursue the thought of adventure, and let it become the mountains that interrupt the valley of the inevitable routines of life. You have to live within the valley, and so you must remember that the ocean is nearby and the mountains are in sight.  

Allow yourself to take the credit for the life you are building. Step back to take in the picture, to be present, to note that you did not have to have yourself figured out to write the universe of your life. You simply had to take a step, and another, and another. You didn’t have to know where you were going to get where you are now. You simply had to know that yes meant yes and no meant no, and that you did not have to compromise a bit of your integrity or humanity to enter into whatever chapter you are now standing within.