Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Her first time in Los Angeles was as a child, nine, maybe ten years old, a family vacation, Disneyland and Hollywood Boulevard and the endless narcotic blue of the Pacific Ocean, only it was just her and her mother because her parents had been divorced for several years at that point, her father somewhere in Florida and going bankrupt again, and the thing she remembered most about the trip—that is, besides the crud smell in the shitty motel and the homeless guy with his pants down—was the air. The air was different. And she didn’t mean the smog. It was something deeper than that, something more profound that she could not name or fully understand at the time. Also: the light, the sky. The blazing red-orange-purple sunsets that on more than one occasion caused her mother to pull over the car and just stare. “Damn,” her mother said. “Look at that. Wow. I mean wow. I guess that’s why there are so many people here and more keep coming. People. Nothing but goddamned people.” This was the mid-1970s, and they drove around a lot and she looked out the passenger window, watching her breath appear then disappear on the glass, absorbing as much as her little girl brain could, her mother smoking and monologueing and navigating their beater yellow-and-brown station wagon through the freeways and side streets of the concrete metropolis. Above all else, it seemed like a place where things could actually happen.