Wednesday, June 25, 2014

E.Z.L.A., It's Another Beautiful Day

Los Angeles, CA (Taken from The Getty)
One of my favorite songs about Los Angeles is an old song by Folk Implosion called, you guessed it, E.Z.L.A.

Without the seasons will I know how to change
Are we helpless to the wind?

Along with an unusual beat and disarming yet haunting melody, the lyrics have always stuck in my head as this beautiful portrait of the culture of this city. But just before he gets too dark, he pulls out with a very light and easy chorus, much like the weather here, "It's another beautiful day."

If life is stranger than fiction, then LA is as mythical as you want it to be. And although it is my hometown, I have always felt a bit like a stranger in this land, which I can only guess is exactly what a native Los Angelino feels like. I am home, but I don't remember anything. I can't remember the freeway rhythms or the street shortcuts or which canyon to take to get to which neighborhood. And yet what I do remember is everything all the time. That house where I slapped the kid on Halloween for pinching my butt when I was fifteen. That driveway when I saw a strong wind come by and blow my friend's mother's skirt up and I learned what a thong was when I was twelve. That dirt track at Van Nuys Sherman Oaks where I ran so many miles around. That offramp that used to make me shutter whenever I passed it. That street my grandparents lived on that used to bring me such joy as a kid, fear as a teenager, and now such deep regret and sadness.  

Feel the ground, it's always moving
Down a mountain through a valley
Watch it all collide

When we first landed here, I felt two earthquakes within a week of each other. My world was spinning and then the ground was trembling beneath my feet. I panicked and woke Mike up. Got him ready in case we needed to run to a door jamb, no wait, you are not supposed to do that anymore...a wait, where the fuck do you go in an earthquake?!" I couldn't remember. So I sat up frozen, heart beating, waiting for the walls to come crumbling down. 

Two weeks ago, a guy was running around my neighborhood with an assault rifle while I decided to work with the door open to get some fresh air. My friend posted it on facebook about the same time the news picked up the story. But that's not why I closed the door. I didn't see the news and I hadn't checked facebook, but I finally noticed the helicopters circling and circling. I remembered what that meant in LA. It meant OJ Simpson was fleeing. It meant there was a shoot out at a bank in North Hollywood. It mean car chase. It meant guns. And without knowing the news, I felt the news, and closed the door. 

Hear the other ocean churning
Helicopters up above

Sometimes I think that I might never feel at home here- that part of being home here is the discomfort, along with the awe of it all. Today, I had lunch in a glass restaurant high up in the hills above this strange land. I reconnected with a family member I never got to really know and we talked about family and place. How the scent of the air here brings a flood of emotions for her, just like the cadence in her speech can bring about my own flood. In New York I feel strong. In LA I feel vulnerable. In New York I feel at home. At home I feel a stranger. But from atop of the hills, I feel neither. I just feel open. 

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