Dawn on day 44 found me dancing free in a sea of laughter. Last night was one of those nights where the party kept working. At the centre of it all was Miranda, British, about my age and the designer of it, orchestrating it live. I think possibly she was also married to the CEO of Absolut who was delightfully working the room whilst being off his box. We spent ages talking about this town, and how it is for her bringing up American kids. She used to live with Winona Ryder so I get the skinny on one of my childhood crushes. I have many very involved very earnest somewhat ridiculous conversations. Oddly i am the only fully bearded guy here. It reminds me of ten years ago, before all the jamjars vinyl and waistcoats.
The music has to stop eventually, and a smiling Lyndon and I walk through the dawning streets buzzing inwardly as my phone buzzes with text messages from my new army of drunk friends. I suspect the rest of my time in this city will involve a lot more dancing since that was pretty much what I did all night, and how I made friends… It was a good clean dirty night. I eventually went to bed with a smile on my face.
Stark contrast to how I felt a few hours later dragging myself howling into hungover reality. My first thought is “Shit, my car.” That’s before even “Christ, my head,” which follows hard upon. My car had been left in the parking lot of 7-11, peppered with cheerful signs saying “cars left overnight will be towed at the owners expense.” Staggering into my clothes I get an uber pool. (No matter how much time pressure I’m under some habits are hard to break and pool is so cheap over here.) I am remembering how expensive it was the last time my car got towed. I’m hoping it’s not so bad in America. Typically the driver picks up two people after me and drops them all off before me. By the time we get to 7-11 I’m chewing my own arm off, but the car is there, safe and sound, untowed. Mark, my flatmate, later says he thought there was a 95% chance it had gone. Phew. I’m grateful to my guardian angel.
Considering I’ve been lucky with the car, and had such a good night, I suggest to Lyndon that we go to Café Gratitude. This is a vegan cafe that I’ve been told a lot about but have so far avoided. I am certain it would annoy me if I was in the wrong mood. This morning, with the pair of us staggering around like the walking dead, it’s the best chance I’ve got of responding well to the place.
Café Gratitude is very LA. They want their customers to be grateful. When they take our order they ask a question of the day. It’s always something to make you think about how lucky you are. Today it’s “What are you looking forward to?” We are tired and suggestible enough to burble things to one another that we are looking forward to. While we are so occupied, the waiter soft sells us a flight of shots. These shots all have ridiculously enthusiastic names. We are going to be Recovering! Then we are going to get Invigorated! And finally Enlivened! When they arrive they don’t smell at all appealing. We take them like medicine. The first one is Burdock, Lemon, Ginger and Carpet. Then it’s something that tastes like camphor and eucalyptus with algae. And finally it’s an unexpected shot of vinegar. Last time I drank vinegar on a hangover the intention was very different. Thankfully I don’t need a bucket this time. And perhaps it’s the power of suggestion but I do start to feel better almost immediately. Our earnest harmless and yet secretly steely waiter then provides us with a mixture of good healthy food and saccharine sentiment. We both decide that neither of us would want to be his friend, but we appreciate his effort. I feel noticeably better as I leave the café. If a little lighter in the wallet.
As we leave there are signs asking “What are you grateful for?” I’m grateful for so much. That I can be out here, that I have a good friend out here, that I have all the good fortune I never had to work for to live where I do. So many things. But this morning, primarily, I’m grateful that the human liver can regenerate itself.