Assorted Thoughts About A Trip West

May 20th, 2010 § 0 comments

Sierra Madre

It was a busy weekend in California, spent driving back and forth between Pasadena and Palm Springs. Five days should be enough time to see everyone and do everything planned, but the visit felt rushed and incomplete as visits always do. It’s hard to land in a place and pick up where you left off, so much has changed and happened since I was last there. It’s the seemingly small task of “catching up” that takes too much time and is so important, and the bigger tasks of seeing and doing that get put off. Arriving, a childhood friend retrieved me at LAX. Last time I saw her I was a bridesmaid in her wedding, this time she brought her two-year-old and the baby girl on the way. As much as I wish I lived near my oldest and best friends, I can’t imagine going home and having them be elsewhere. It is odd enough that my brother is no longer there. I think of certain people as belonging to certain places as strongly as I know those places themselves. It always surprises me that while I have lived most of my adult life away from the people I know best, they still understand me the most. Sharing a past seems to a lay the groundwork of trust that carries us through the unexpected twists and turns of our more adult lives.

Stella

Living at the foot of Mt. Wilson in Sierra Madre, Dad and I went hiking on a hot Friday morning, trekking 1.5 miles to First Water, the river that runs through the mountains, a short hike for him and an exhausting hike for me. I might be in good shape for urban walking, since I do so much of that, but I was sadly out of shape for climbing hillsides. While First Water was well worth the dusty, sweaty hike up, the landscape and vegetation alone was worth the effort. Nothing smells quite like native plants, wildflowers, dust, and rocks all baked together in the sunlight. I miss the produce of the west coast, and Dad’s farmer’s market avocados and strawberries followed me back and forth from his house to the desert, where Mom and I had pink smoothes all weekend whenever the desert heat felt too unreasonable.

First Water CA

Palm Springs never changes too much: it’s always hot, dry, and very much a desert resort town. No matter how much it actually changes, it still feels like the same city I used to visit as a child and teenager. I love the looming mountains, the wind turbines, the bizarre elderly people, and the thrift stores. It’s a great place to photograph, full of celebrity houses, movie people, and iconic hotels, and lends itself well to my Polaroid series of ironic places and histories. It’s a sad place for me, however, tinged with memories that are uncomfortable. I have made my peace, but the reminders are always painful. Sitting out under the night sky, warmth still rising from the pavement, looking at the stars on a happy night of wine and tacos, I missed Jon.

Palm Springs CA

I have a good feeling about turning twenty-six. Twenty-five was a good year in some twisted sense of the word, a hard year full of changes and tough decisions. The twenties, I have decided, are much like the teens, where you are still growing, changing, and learning to live with who you are. If this levels out it certainly is not in your twenties. It was a mellow birthday, falling on an overcast Sunday that we spent at LACMA seeing the Robin Rhode show, whimsical and evocative enough to charm even Mom. The Broad was showcasing a new, or recently installed, part of the collection featuring a large exhibition of Joseph Beuys work: always interesting if a bit puzzling. We ate delicious Mexico City Mexican food at the Gardens of Taxco in west Hollywood, and I finished off the night with a strange encounter with John Steppling, and a fantastic bar chat and Old Town stroll with another old friend.

Berlin Wall

Flying home from California always reminds me of the first time I flew to Europe. I was on my way to Germany with my class, seated next to a young German girl who had been an exchange high school student for the past year. She was flying home and she cried the whole way. She kept looking at a card from her classmates, rereading their notes and well wishes, and stopped crying only to eat. Watching her meet her family in the Munich airport, I could never figure out if she had been crying because she was leaving her friends or because she was going home. I think both.

sunset in the midwest

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