62. I keep on writing this post and then looking back on what I’ve written, thinking it’s a load of guff, scrapping it, and starting it again. That hasn’t happened before. So I asked myself why. I think it’s because right now the last rays of sun are fading from my final sunset here. I feel the need to tell you “This is what I’ve learned,” and wrap it all up in a neat little package. LA has clearly had an effect on me. We’re encouraged to storify ourselves here. People say “So what’s your story?” and then wait, counting to 30 in their heads, before interrupting and reciting their elevator pitch for themselves with dead eyes. I’ve got so used to it I’ve started to accidentally do it. I overhear myself cramming all the salient points into the first few sentences, and wonder what the hell I am doing. Making a story of the ridiculous shit and the ridiculous joy that has brought me this far. It’s nonsense. Nobody is as simple as the story they tell about themselves, or the story other people tell about them. And conversations should range with the listening.
Essentially there’s a lot of balls here. Despite this bullshitmongering, I have certainly had the chance to look at myself, which is good as I’ve not liked doing that in the past. And I’ve come to terms with myself. There are plenty of opportunities for self improvement and self change in this place. They’ve efficiently capitalised on the gap between expectation and reality. Some people come with big expectations and then when it’s not how they imagined it they cut bits off themselves or pump things into themselves or tweak or pull or paint themselves in the hope that it’s just that bit that isn’t working. Yogis, psychics, trainers, tatooists, surgeons, dancers, house flippers, fighters, improvisers, singers, actors, lovers, healers, gamblers – they’ve all got their stall out. Whatever someone has decided is the thing they aren’t doing well, the thing that if they had it everything would be different, there’s someone. Someone will sell them something and make them feel better. For a short while. As a visitor you can keep yourself busy with first time discounts and free trials without going too deep. You can come away feeling shinier and happier, and able to love yourself without shame. I think the best way is to come to this place expecting nothing. I didn’t really give myself time to expect anything, I was too busy trying to work out where to live. And I found the right place. And I’ve been able to look at the man in the mirror. It’s helped me turn a corner in my story. If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change.
They play Man in the Mirror about five times every day. You’re Amazing Just The Way You Are six times, Don’t You Forget About Me every other song. That song in California is enough for Simple Minds to never have to work again. I got so bored of it I instinctively switched off the radio every time I heard the opening chords. In between songs people phone up to dreamily tell listeners how lovely their wife is and how happy they are. The DJ tells them how wonderful love is in a comforting voice. There’s a lot of super cute super sweet smiley happy people holding hands. Everyone is so so happy.
And yet it stinks of weed. Weed is only recently legal now so everyone is hoovering the stuff because it numbs the pain. Not only do you smell it on every street corner, but whole districts near the warehouses honk of it like hops near a brewery. And there’s plenty of coke, meth, psychedelics, whatever you want. Get better, take drugs, you’re amazing, you’re not good enough, live fully, obliterate yourself. Everybody is amazing, nobody is anything. The smiley happy people have a community of angry homeless living on the pavement outside their block. They hold hands to step over the sleeping methheads, going to the ten buck ice cream parlour in their active wear.
Hollywood. I walked up to the sign today. Is it the only place in the world that advertises itself so prominently? “I’m Hollywood, you’re in me, look at my big letters. You can walk to me but you can only stand behind me.” The right thing to do on my last day, I felt.
The prospect of London is giving me reality checks. I had a great walk this morning with Lisa-Marie, and a necessary talk and think which have both helped me understand why I’m here, what I’ve achieved and what’s next. Now it’s back to work, and I can’t wait. And it’s Spring in England which I can barely understand because it’s been so gorgeous the last few weeks here. Bring it London.
Which reminds me. I get back home by 12.30 On Sunday afternoon. If a couple of you are free, it’d be nice to see you.