If Only In My Dreams

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All those songs are right … it is nice to be home for the holidays.  In 2018, according to AAA, nearly seven million people in the United States will travel via air during the next couple weeks to see family and friends.  Over the last twenty years I’ve boarded many planes during the holiday season, and my journeys have gone smoothly.

Except once.

In December of the year 2000 the Travel Gods had a good laugh at my expense.  What follows is the journal I kept back then on planes, in various airports, my parents’ house in Lynn, and my apartment in Los Angeles.  I always thought what I wrote was pretty funny, and I had visions of publishing a David Sedaris type article about my misadventures (I had recently read his SantaLand Diaries).  Unfortunately that never happened.

Eighteen years later, I present these journal excerpts to you as my last blog post of 2018.  Happy Holidays and I hope you enjoy!

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December 24, 2000

FL 2677 to Phoenix (America West Airlines)

1:44 pm PST

In my seat and waiting to take off for the first leg of my journey.  I should be thankful I made it on this plane.  The morning started off quite poorly.

The fire trucks were a bad omen.

I somehow wake up just after eight am after drinking with Bradleigh and the crew all night, throw a bunch a clothes into a bag, and survive the fifteen minute walk to the subway station with my suitcase.  Tired and weary, I am still on schedule.

But when I arrive at the Hollywood & Highland Metro station, there were flashing lights and fireman clomping down the stairs and police sirens in the distance.  I didn’t smell smoke and nobody stopped me, so I descend towards the tracks on the escalator.  I used the automated kiosk to pay my $1.60 fare and wait for the 9:20 train.

The night before I sat in a booth at The Formosa Café and got laughed at after divulging my plans to take the LA Metro to the airport.  My friends looked at me as if I claimed I would get there via a pogo stick.  I sipped my Manhattan and said confidently:

“The Super Shuttle is twenty-five bucks.  A cab is about forty.  And none of you drunks are going to get up that early and drive me.  I’m broke and the subway is less than two dollars.”

Nobody believed it was possible.  And when I explained the logistics, the red line to the blue to the green and then a quick shuttle, they thought it was all a joke.  There was general disbelief a subway line even ran under Hollywood.  I assured them it did, and that I had mapped it all out online the day before.

After the bar we all ended up at my place.  I had planned on packing for my trip home to see my family, but then the tequila was taken out of the freezer.  Not too many hours later, the buzzing of my alarm clock was terrifying.

But bag in hand, I had made it to the Metro tracks.  LAX was about an hour away.  It was the morning of Christmas Eve, and I stood on the Hollywood & Highland platform waiting for a train that would not come.

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Had I not been so hungover, I likely would have realized my plight.  But the night before I gave into my roommate Bradleigh and went out for a Christmas Eve-Eve Party.  It started at our apartment on June Street, went to the Formosa, then to Cat & Fiddle, and finally back to where we started.  It ended sometime around five am with a group of us watching American Beauty.

The 9:20 train didn’t show, and then it became 9:40, 9:45, and 9:53.  I heard yelling down the other end of the tracks, and it sounded like someone was saying the station was closed. My adrenaline had spiked, and I walked back upstairs to investigate.  The voice was coming from an MTA employee.  He was informing people not to go down to the tracks, but neglected to share this information with the poor slobs on the platform.

I raced up the stairs to Hollywood Boulevard and hailed a cab.

I cursed myself for not arranging a Super Shuttle.  This trip home to Boston was already going to tax my meager bank account, and my $1.60 mass transit ride had turned into a forty dollar cab.  I’ll need to cross someone off my Christmas list.

Getting out of the cab I was horrified at the scores of people on the curb and inside the terminal.  My plane would be leaving in about forty minutes.  I scanned the area for an airport employee who did not look like he would stab me if I asked a question.

“I have an e-ticket and no bags to check,” I said.  “Do I have to get my ticket here?”

“No, you can go right up to the gate.”

Nine of the greatest words ever spoken.

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(Author’s 2018 note: It’s hard to remember that in the days before September 11th, anybody, regardless of whether they had a ticket, could go to an airline gate.  While it was nice to be greeted by family and friends right off the plane while traveling, it also meant every nut imaginable could prowl the terminals asking for “donations”.  While there certainly were legit charities at LAX, you were normally solicited by dozens of weirdos. Every time I would think of Leslie Nielsen in Airplane!  And on that day my confusion was heightened by something very new to me back then, the e-ticket.)

I purchased my tickets online, first time ever for me, and I didn’t even print a receipt.  There was nothing to prove I was supposed to be flying to Boston for Christmas.  If I wasn’t so hungover, I probably would have been very nervous.

Checking the monitors my flight seemed to be the only one not delayed.  I figured it was karmic payback for the cab.  But when I got to the gate the earlier Boston flight wasn’t even boarding.  I was delayed, despite what the computers said.  But I still needed my ticket.

In the mass of people there seemed to be an amorphous line.  I squeezed into it.  There was a good chance I would be shunned at the gate.  I hadn’t even called to confirm the ticket I bought online from William Shatner’s Priceline.com over a month ago.  Maybe this wasn’t even in the right place.  Was it Northwest or America West or Southwest?

And what if my name had been deleted by some computer in, say, Backwater, Utah?   I could hear some smarmy guy explaining, “Sorry, sir, no Ostrowski’s on our list.  In fact, we don’t even have any Michael’s”.

Panic would set in and I’d be too weary to do anything.  Muttering to myself and heavy drinking would soon follow.  I would curse Captain Kirk to the day he died.

But I showed my ID to the woman at the counter and she gave me a boarding pass.  I wait an hour or so (I’m still on track to make my connection to Boston in Phoenix), and eventually got to my aisle seat on flight 2677 to Phoenix on America West Airlines.  Writing in this journal has already eaten up a lot of time.  I’ll eat my snack mix and then continue as we’re about to land.

Wheels down now for the approach to Phoenix….

It’s close to two o’clock Pacific time, and we’re thirty minutes before my plane to Boston.  Lunch would be nice, but not enough time.  Thankfully the gate I’m landing at will be right we’re I’m taking off.

…..Later On

4:06 pm

Still in Phoenix

“Flight 2824 to Boston- obviously we’re experiencing a delay.  The plane has been clean and catered and the pilots are ready for departure.  We just need a crew.  There will be a slight delay while we locate them.”

-America West Announcement

The delay in Los Angeles wasn’t much of a problem.  Whether waiting in LAX or Sky Harbor…it’s still waiting.  But we’re nearing 4:15 pm and they haven’t begun boarding.  Another announcement just informed us the crew would be here shortly “from the break room”.  The person using the PA is obviously pissed at his fellow employees.  For such raw honestly in an airport must be done out of spite.  Passengers are a cranky lot by nature, and this just gives them live bodies to vent their frustration.

At the gate across from me a shouting match is going on.  Well, not really a match.  It’s more of a one-sided verbal tirade from a female customer.  I wonder if the crew on her flight got adequate rest in the employee break room.  They’re surely going to need it.

“Once again we apologize for the delay”.

Airports just bring out the worst in people.  Like freeways and World Wars.  Mostly I find them a creepy necessity.  Thousands of strangers each desperately wanting to get somewhere/anywhere and most willing to step over babies and shove the elderly to do it.  And then there’s the airplane food.

“Your choices for dinner tonight are Salisbury Steak or Walnut Chicken Salad.”

I hate walnuts and Salisbury Steak reminds me of Elementary School.  But all I’ve eaten today is snack mix.  I get the beef and a beer.  1,854 miles to go.

….Later on

11:00 pm EST

It’s been a family tradition to gather at my great aunts’ house on the night before Christmas.    Afterwards I would go to Ditch’s and drink Irish whiskey and see friends from high school.  I’d never missed either of those events despite living on the other side of the country for the last three years.  Tonight the streak ends.

Fuck you, America West.

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*******

December 30, 2000

2:30 pm

Logan Airport, Gate 43B

A great trip home, but I now must get back to Los Angeles.

With a king hell bastard of a snow storm closing in on Boston, I’m here at the near empty America West terminal.  On the news I hear of delays and cancellations and all sorts of airport trouble, but somehow, someway, FL 2188 is on time.  The madness of LAX a week earlier has been transplanted to the tranquility of Logan.

But it’s a little too quiet.

There has to a problem.  My good ole friend shitty luck tells me that.  He’s an asshole so I want to ignore him, but unfortunately Mr. S. Luck is usually right.

Although this could be a karmic bone thrown to me for leaving (and losing) $300 worth of CDs on the plane from Phoenix.  I really don’t want to relive that situation…thinking about it makes me want to scream.  I called the airline and spoke to several people, but nobody could locate my CD carrying case (Author’s 2018 note: we were still around a year away from the iPod being released…it was devastating to lose all that music.) 

What is certain is that I’m missing both wild card games.  There’s no damn TV in this mini terminal.  No food, no stores, no magazine racks either.  I’m not even sure there’s a bathroom.  I could walk over to the American one and see how the Colts are doing, but that’s just inviting disaster.

Well…the trip home?

Great seeing my mom, dad, sis, bro, nephew, brother-in-law, grandparents, and friends.  I got to spend a lot of time with everybody and I’m truly lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life.  But of course that makes me not want to go back to LA.

The play (SantaLand Diaries) and the museum with my Mom were great days.  My nephew Nicholas is almost two-and-a-half, and was much more receptive to me than my last visit and he actually said my name.  Ditch and I had a good time drinking at Uno’s and The Border Café.  And I got to toss back some pints with Mark and Scott at The Beantown Pub, then later at Nua Tua (a new Irish Pub that was cool).

I also watched the Pats game with my Dad (a close loss to the Dolphins, finishing the season at a very disappointing 5-11) and talked sports with Jeff.  I met Mark last night to see the new Coen Brothers’ film “O Brother, Where Art Thou” (which was great) at the new Fenway Cinemas.  And like always, Boston looked amazing despite the cold weather, and made me realize how shitty LA really is.

Back to Hollywood.

David Sedaris Christmas

… 2:36 pm PST

FL 2188

At the back of the plane all by myself.  Haven’t been on a plane this empty in along time.  It’s quiet and I have space…not too much else you can ask for on a cross-country journey.  Well, if a really cool and pretty girl was sitting back here … and we had a great conversation and then ended up becoming boyfriend-girlfriend.

Let’s be reasonable.

I think it would be wise to declare my life a disaster area and try a different approach.  Because what I’m doing now just ain’t working.  But is that the absolute truth?   Is this is all “destiny”…part of some bizzaro plan that’s never been shared with me?   I moved to LA two and a half years ago, and I’ve got nothing to show for it.  I can’t believe it that’s my plan. I need to make things happen.

Shit, I’m tired but I can’t sleep.  Even with nobody in any of the rows surrounding me I can’t get some Z’s.  But I’m going to try again.

 . . . 7:38 pm

Sky Harbor Airport

Fucking Eh.

I get out of a damn blizzard in Boston and now I might not get to LA because of fog.  We were 30 minutes early to Phoenix, but now have to wait least an hour delay with a high chance of cancellation.

The Travel Gods are straight up giggling at me.

Although it’s a dump, I just want to get back to Hollywood.  I’ve been up since 5 am Pacific Time and I’m getting a headache.  They’re announcing our fate in a few minutes.  If I didn’t have to work tomorrow it’s no big deal.  But I do.  And this whole situation, for lack of a better cliché, sucks ass.

 . . . 8:30 pm

Gate B6

They say my flight, most likely, is going to take off.  But they changed gates.

From gate B26 (where I was) to B6 (where I needed to go) is a long ass walk.  My flight is delayed to at least 10 pm, and they make you trek all the way through the damn terminal to wait for a plane that still might not leave tonight.

My other option is Burbank.  That leaves at 10:30 pm and “supposedly” there is no fog there.  For all I know there’s hail and locusts.  Burbank would be a cheaper Super Shuttle to Hollywood.

I’ll wait until 9 to make my decision.

Shit, it’s not 8:30 it’s 9:30.  Lousy Phoenix and their disregard for Daylight Savings!  I thought we were on LA time.  I’m going to try for the Burbank flight.

…..On the Flight Back to LA

I’d like to think I looked like OJ running through the airport in those old commercials.  But most likely I resembled Culkin’s family in “Home Alone”.

After going all the way to Gate A9 for the Burbank flight I was told I had to go to Customer Assistance if I wanted on that flight.

“Can’t you just put me on?” I asked.

“No.”

“But, the computer—”

“I can’t do it.”

Screwed.

I’ve seen Jamie, my good buddy and an AA employee, do it many times.  But she wouldn’t take the 5 seconds to help me.

Screwed.

The line is deep.  I’ve been waiting in it now for 15 minutes and I’ve moved nowhere.  At this rate I should be at the front in . . .well, never.

Somehow I make it to the front of Customer Assistance only to find out the flight is full.

The woman there offers some hope when she says, “But they’ve lifted the fog ban in LA and I think they’re boarding now.”

I am nowhere near B6.  So it’s come to this.  I’ve been up for 17 hours, my nose is running, my eyes watery, the last meal I consumed was reheated Salisbury Steak, and now I have to RUN halfway through Phoenix if I don’t want to spend the night here.

I make it one minute before they close the doors.

We’re in the air I hear for about twenty minutes and we get this gem of an announcement:

“We don’t want to get your hopes up.  We might have to turn around and go back to Phoenix.”

Luckily that doesn’t happen.  We somehow are able to land in the fog and the whole plane is clapping.  But I can’t see a thing out the window and I’m not at all convinced we’re at LAX.  We taxi on the runway forever.

….Later on

1200 North June Street

Los Angeles, CA

Beer in hand, time to finish this crazy story.  If I wasn’t so broke I would have taken a cab.  Instead I had to take the Super Shuttle, and just before we’re about to leave it’s just me and a woman going to the Westside.  The Super Shuttle is great for those of us on a budget, unless it’s full and you’re one of the last people to get dropped off.  But here it is, after midnight, and hopefully I can escape with just one other passenger.

Nope.

Four more people squeeze in just before we’re about to take off.  Guess who’s the last stop?  My laugh scares several of the passengers.

I take the elevator up to my floor, and I truly expect to come home to a robbed apartment.  But when I open the door I find everything exactly as I left it.  Bradleigh’s working and won’t be home for a couple of hours.  There’s three Guinness in the fridge and I plan to drink them all before going to sleep.

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48 Hours in LA – Part Two

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Los Feliz . . . one of the best neighborhoods in LA.

After taking in the views from the back of the Hollywood sign, I descend Mount Lee with an extra bounce in my step.  There are no more thoughts of the red-eye flight, of the crazy cab ride from LAX, of exhaustion, and most importantly, of sleep.  I’m ready to keep this day rolling.

Before reaching the bottom of the trail I try to arrange an Uber or a Lyft, but the service is spotty.  When I get to the parking lot I stand next to the Camp Hollywood Land sign, and I finally get a signal.  The driver is nine minutes away.

My pre-trip research pays off, and I know I want to have lunch at Mess Hall Kitchen in Los Feliz.  This is the site of the defunct Derby, a club made famous in the movie Swingers and one I frequented often back in 1990s.  The history of the space telescopes much further back in time.  It was originally built in the 1920s as Willard’s Chicken Inn and then a few decades later became one of the iconic Brown Derby restaurants.

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On the way to Mess Hall Kitchen I chat with the driver, letting him know that I used to live in LA back in the late 90s, early 2000s.  I remark, casually, that just in my short time here (about five hours) I’ve noticed the city has changed.  I don’t say good or bad, but just that it seems to be built-up a little more and less gritty.

The scruffy bearded gentleman in his mid-30s doesn’t waste time letting me know his opinion.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” he says loudly over a Martin Denny Tiki song.   “This city is becoming San Francisco south.  I want to move.”

I keep quiet.  This was not what I had been expecting.

“Where do I go?  The rents are fucking crazy here, and I’ve had to keep moving east from Hollywood to find someplace decent.  This is my home, this is where the money is.  Shit, in ten years I’ll be lucky to afford a place in Riverside.”

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I don’t have any answers for him, and I enter Mess Hall Kitchen with some excitement and a little trepidation.  It’s great that the place has been transformed into a top notch gastro pub, but I can’t help but mourn the loss of the Derby.  Swingers came out a couple of years before I moved to LA, and it’s a film that still resonates with me.  I spent many a night at the Derby back in the day . . .  on dates, with friends, and even by myself on occasion.  I loved that place.

All of this swirls through my head as I walk inside Mess Hall Kitchen.   It’s yet to strike noon on Tuesday, but there’s a decent amount of people.  There are heat lamps in the patio area, and I take a seat outside and order my first beer of the day.  It’s quite refreshing after my hike.  My lunch is the Mess Burger (onions, cheddar cheese, bbq sauce) cooked medium rare to perfection, and it is served on a delicious brioche bun.

It was hard to connect the place with the same one that used to feature Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and where very talented swing dancers strutted their stuff.  But nonetheless I leave happy.  I walk down Hillhurst with no destination in mind, other than a vague feeling that I will need to go to Skylight Books.  The fog burns away to the sun, and I figure why not have beer number two.

I realize I’m gravitating towards Ye Rustic Inn, one of the all-time best dive bars in Los Angeles.  It’s probably been a decade since I’ve been there, and when I walk inside I’m so glad that not much has changed.  Dark, red leather booths, wood paneled walls, and just an overall wonderful local vibe.  I remember way back when they were one of the first bars in LA to serve Stella (hard to think that was a big deal since you can get it just about anywhere now), so for nostalgic purposes I order one.

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I can’t help but eavesdrop on the two guys in their 50s talking loudly next to me, and it’s a challenge to keep from laughing out loud at their stories.  One of them says he was 4’9 in high school (he’s easily over six feet now), and that he needed a special cushion in order to drive.  One time at a party this cute girl he liked invited him back to her place since her parents were out of town.  But she insisted he drive her car, and when he had to get his special cushion, it cock-blocked the moment.  “No pussy at all in high school,” he said sadly.  “But at least I was tit high.”

While I could have spent more time at the Ye Rustic, I knew I had to keep on keeping on.  So I headed down Russell Ave with the majestic purple jacaranda trees blooming on either side.  Skylight Books was my next stop after reaching Vermont, and I spent a good 20 minutes or so ambling around and perusing the shelves.  I ended up buying a new notebook (Shinola Detroit), which has served me well these last few weeks.

Afterwards I walked a block up to Fred 62, a place I used to frequent when I lived not too far away in Sliverlake.  It was here nearly 15 years ago that I started reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, which is a great book for anyone who has either abandoned their creativity or never knew they had any.  I can recall sitting at that same wooden counter in November of 2001, turning those pages while eating an Apple Crumble ala mode and drinking a cup of coffee.

In 2016 I have the same dessert, but opt for a mimosa instead.  There’s a woman somewhere around my age sitting next to me, eating her lunch and reading a book.  She smiles at my order, and says if she didn’t have to get back to work she would be doing the same.  It’s around 2 pm, and it’s time to head back to the hotel so I can finally check-in.

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On the way to the subway (yes, LA has a well-functioning Metro that I used to take on occasion when I was a resident), I get sidetracked when I see the sign across the street for 1739 Public House.  I had read good things about it, especially about their wide array of beer choices.  So I pop inside the open air pub with the stained wooden walls and high ceiling with exposed rafters.

There’s only a few people at the bar, and I take a seat closest to the street.  The bartender is young and cute, and there’s a guy in his 50s a few stools down chatting her up.  I figure I’ll have just one and be on my way to the Sunset & Vermont Metro Stop.

The beer is a Petrus Aged Red, and my God it’s delicious.  It’s brewed in Belgium, and is imported by a company out of Middleton, Mass (not too far from where I grew up).  Technically a sour beer, there’s sweetness that brings balance and the flavor is just perfect.  It was a recommendation from the bartender, and I thank her.

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During my second Petrus the middle aged guy tells the bartender he has a daughter around her age, and that she always complains there is nobody to date but hipsters.  The bartender considers this conundrum, and nods a few times.  Then she says, “I don’t mind dating a hipster, but if the most interesting thing about you is the way you dress and look, you’re going to bore the shit out of me.”

After a third Petrus I finally make my way down Vermont to the Metro station.  This is the same stop I used to take the year I joined a bowling league in 2000.  Our team was the youngest by at least a decade, and every Tuesday night I had a blast rolling and drinking and chatting with a lot of great people.

It was three quick stops to Hollywood and Highland, and when I exit the station I pass the Chinese Theatre.  They’re setting up the movie premiere for The Nice Guys and there are people everywhere.  Amongst the tourists are the many hustlers dressed like superheroes and Jack Sparrow and Star Wars characters.  When I lived in the neighborhood I distinctly remember seeing Charlie Chaplin, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe, but there were not a lot of them.  Now it almost seemed to be a one-to-one street performer to tourist ratio.  Though with my lack of sleep and several beers, it’s possible my mind is being hyperbolic.

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I walk up Orange and I’m so happy to reach the Magic Castle Hotel.  My room is ready, a junior suite with a pool view, and my bags have already been brought up there.  Alex and Derick couldn’t be any nicer or more efficient at check-in, and I’m offered a wide menu of complimentary candy and snacks (which is available to all guests 24-7).  All I want is water, and there is an infused dispenser right behind me.  I down a few cups while Alex completes the process.

When I get to the room I’m presented with another opportunity to sleep, but even though I won’t be meeting my friends for dinner for another 4 hours I opt against it.  Instead I take a swim in the heated pool, make some coffee in the room, and then shower and change for the evening.

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The Magic Castle Hotel pool.

At 6:30 pm I’m back out in Hollywood, heading down Highland Avenue in the direction of the Cinerama Dome (where I’ll be meeting friends for dinner).  I’m early, and an old neon sign beckons me to a bar.  In the late 90s the Power House was a complete shit hole of the best possible kind.  Dark, dirty, surly, and the perfect place to knock back a Jameson on the rocks after your last screenplay had been rejected for the twentieth time.

I wasn’t surprised to see the Power House had been reinvented as an upscale lounge.  While I could certainly be mad that one of the all-time great dive bars of the neighborhood has classed itself up, as a visitor (and not a resident) I can just enjoy the vibe and my Bulleit on the rocks.  The new owners of the Power House have gotten back to its original old Hollywood 1947 roots, with exposed brick, white tile, and hanging plants.  I sip my cocktail, and when songs by Green Day, Sugar Ray, and Semisonic come over the speakers in succession, it’s like I’m back to 1999.  Until my bill arrives.

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My buddy Dave gets to Stella Barra sooner than expected, and I hustle down Highland and go left at Hollywood Boulevard.  My memory fails me on how long it takes to get to the Cinerama Dome from the Power House, and it turns out to be a 25-minute walk in the dusk (I was thinking 15 max).  I had cut down some side streets to get to Sunset, and went past the Crossroads of the World complex.  When I lived in the neighborhood I always enjoyed walking by the cool 1930s buildings, and back then (as well as now) I couldn’t help but think of the scenes shot there in LA Confidential.

******

It’s been three years since I’ve seen Dave (when he and his fiancé Marley visited Hawaii), two years since I’ve hung-out with Kristi (on my last trip to LA), and it’s been over six since I’ve shared a cocktail with Matt (when we all had got together for a memorial for our friend Bradleigh).  It’s so great to see all of them.  The night is full of great conversation and the pizza and beer are quite tasty.  I feel truly lucky to have the opportunity to spend time with these three wonderful people.

After dinner Matt and Dave get cookies from the bakery for their wife and fiancé respectively, and Kristi is off to her apartment because she has to get up early for work.  We leave the restaurant, and I can’t help but be amazed at how the area has been transformed.  When I lived in Hollywood, the Cinerama Dome was a cool but severely aged theater, and the best you could do for food was something prepackaged from one of the corner liquor stores.  Now it was a full-on mall complex, with shopping and dining and a massive parking lot.

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The Cinerama Dome circa 2000.

Matt and Dave had parked in the lot, and the three of us walk up to Matt’s car so he can share his band’s CDs with us (Matt Mann and the Shine Runners, who are truly awesome).  Dave had worked all day in San Diego (and had driven back to LA directly for dinner), but he was up for a night cap so we could continue catching up.

Dave and I met in 1999 when we both worked for California Pizza Kitchen in downtown LA, and since then have remained great friends.  A few years after I moved to San Francisco he enrolled at UC Berkeley, and while he was in school we would hang out whenever we got the chance.  Tonight we ended up at Birds on Franklin, a cool place that I used to frequent back in the late 90s and which really hadn’t changed much.

Dave grew up in LA, and he was happy to be home.  We talked a lot about the city, about our days here way back when and how we viewed the place now.  Dave was very complimentary about his hometown, and I was as well.  I then uttered words I thought I would never, ever say:

“I think I could live here again.”

When I left LA in 2004 I had no regrets.  Two nights before I moved I saw Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at the Hollywood Bowl, and I had an epiphany when they played “Go Daddy-O”.   Amongst the thousands of people and the bright lights and the great music, it hit me.  I felt so lucky and greatful that I had actually moved to LA and followed my dream.  But with this thought I was equally happy to be leaving, and I was sure I would never again be a resident.

In the twelve years since I left, I’ve been back to Los Angeles many times.  This was the first visit where I actually said that I could move back.  At Birds with Dave, after being up all day and ingesting an uncountable number of beers and cocktails, I became convinced I should dust off my old scripts and give screenwriting another go.  It was sweet drunk talk, and after Dave drove me back to the Magic Castle I fall asleep in about five minutes.

I’ve been in LA for a whole day and I still have 24 more hours left . . . .

 

 

The Next Adventure

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Key West … a great place to live in your 20s.  

When I was in high school I had a large map of the United States tacked to the wall over my bed.  At that point in my life I’d only been to places on the East Coast (New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and Florida).  I loved the traveling I’d done with my family, and it surely fueled my desire to want to see more.  I vowed to get to as many cities on that map as possible.

My first chance to Go West occurred in college (Wisconsin & Illinois), and then shortly after graduation I took the trip that truly changed my life.  Colorado was the destination, and an Amtrak Train over the course of three days was my mode of transportation.  I was hoping to live in Breckenridge for a year, but it ended up being (for various reasons) slightly less than two months.  But that experience was the catalyst that drove me to move to Key West after turning 23, and certainly helped me when California became my new home at 28-years-old.

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When I was 22 I took the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago, and then the California Zephyr to Denver.  That trip is worthy of its own blog.   

I’ve made traveling, either vacations or relocations, a top priority of my life.  Hawaii is the 4th state where I’ve held a license to drive, and I’ve also had the opportunity to step foot in many of the cities and countries on my lifelong “to do” list.  On a World Traveler’s Scorecard my adventures might not rate that high, but to me I feel so lucky for every passport stamp or check mark I’ve made on a map.

I love where I live now, and I am very fortunate to be here.  Hawaii is such a special place, not only the sheer beauty of the islands but the people and feeling of the aloha spirit.  The three and a half years I’ve spent here have been amazing.

But I still can’t help myself from looking forward to my next adventure.

I suppose I’ve always been that way.  I cherished the time I spent living in Key West, but I was ready to leave after one year.  I look back on LA as some of the best years of my life, but six of them in Southern California was more than enough.   I was extremely happy in San Francisco, my last city of residence, and I still consider it one of the greatest places to live in the world.  But after eight years I knew I needed a new destination to discover.

Hell, I couldn’t even stay at one college for four years.  I loved Bridgewater State and made so many friends there, but I left after two-years for Boston University.  The prospect of “what’s next” is always very thrilling.

When my company offered me a job in Honolulu in 2012, I knew I had to take it.  I have no plans to leave Hawaii, and I’m beyond happy being here.  Exhibit A: On my walk home tonight through Kapiolani Park just as dusk turned to night, the first twinkling of the stars appeared while I breathed in the soft tropical breeze.  Just minutes earlier I had strolled past Waikiki Beach, and the sky had just a hint of pink visible in the dark purples and grays.  When the traffic waned you could hear the surf lapping against the sand.  If I stay here another three and a half years I would consider myself lucky.

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Dusk in Honolulu

But as my 40s keep on keeping on, I know there are more places not only to explore as a visitor, but to experience as a resident.

I would love to live in Europe for one year.  With the visa requirements I’d have to keep moving and get out of Schengen Area every three months, but that is a work-around that would be fun to do.  My money would go a lot further in Costa Rica or Belize (which I visited in 2012), and those countries are very tempting destinations.  The idea of taking a year off from work to travel and write is one that Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ellen Page would have no problem incepting in me.

But I’ll put those thoughts on hold for the time being, and enjoy the opportunities for shorter trips.  J’Nell and I just had a wonderful neighbor island visit to Kauai, and in two weeks I’ll be in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for vacation.  The next longer adventure awaits.   It will begin as a dream, then become an obsession, and at some point in the future will become a reality.

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Great quote from “Inception”.