Chapter 2: Highway 1, Los Angeles, and San Diego
After I ate my emotionally tainted turkey burger and left the private school, I went over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco and got onto Highway 1.
People. This road was soooooo cool. For most of the route it wound right along the ocean, whether it was carved into the side of a mountain or covered in sand blowing in from a beach. I wasn’t expecting the coastline to be so rocky, and that aspect of the terrain was a pleasant surprise. When I pulled off for the night in Pacific Grove, I got a room at a little hotel right by the ocean, and then walked down to the old lighthouse on the beach. A perfectly manicured golf course spread out over the hills in front of the water. The setting sun beamed merrily between the trees, over the small family of deer grazing in the distance, and straight into my eyes. Gulls chittered in the distance. The surf crashed over the rocks and receded with a gentle rush. I found a bench about thirty feet from the water’s edge, and just sat and smelled and watched and listened. While I sat there in uffish thought, a fog rolled in over the tiny city, and I got chilly. I decided to go in search of sustenance.
My phone had died and I wasn’t exactly sure where the main street was, so I started cutting through cross-streets and found myself in one with nary a light in a window. Combined with the fog, plus the Halloweeny timing, I felt a little spooked. Then a pitch-black cat walked right in front of me and sat down. I’m not kidding. I laughed at how very Edgar Allen Poe things were becoming, and bent down to give the kitty a tickle.
Then I started walking. She followed me. I’d walk for ten seconds or so, and then turn around and there she’d be, trotting just a few feet away. Sometimes she’d pull up ahead. Other times, she’d be right at my heels. She walked with me until I was almost to the main street, and then she watched me cross the street but stayed where she was. I said goodbye and wished her well. In all seriousness, it was a really sweet encounter. I’d like to think that she’s sitting at home tonight, curled up by her own fake fireplace, writing her kitty blog and thinking about me. But that’s just silly. In any case, she took my mind off the fear that I might be murdered in cold blood with no witnesses, and for that I am grateful.
The next day went much the same as the first. Driving, stopping for pictures, climbing over weird ass rock formations. I literally saw tons of seagull shit. I took a selfie with Keyhole Rock. I kindly took a picture for a family at McWay Falls. I crossed a river in Andrew Molera state park and then climbed up a big hill and saw people surfing for real for the first time in my life (as opposed to the television screens in Hollister)(are those still even there? am I dating myself?). I peeked over the edge of a steep and highly unstable dirt cliff, summoned my bravery, climbed/slid down said cliff, and found myself on a deserted beach with old bleached driftwood forts that somebody had built. They were comfortably large and clean, and offered almost complete protection from the blustery wind, which was nice because it was chilly outside and inside the fort was sunny and warm. I sat in one while I ate my lunch and pretended I was Tom Hanks on Castaway. I cried for Wilson. I got up and romantically spelled “POO” out of rocks on the beach. Then I got back on the road and arrived a few hours later in Los Angeles, realizing halfway there that I had left a banana peel in the fort and feeling mildly guilty about it.
A dear friend of mine, Matt, lives in Los Angeles. About ten years ago, Matt and I met when we found ourselves debating over Proposition 8 in California. (Memba dat? When the Mormon Church asked its members to bankroll their anti-gay-marriage bullshit? Joke’s on them; all that money couldn’t beat a common-sense interpretation of the Constitution. HA!) Anyway, ever since then we’ve stayed in touch, and we finally met last February when I visited Los Angeles for the first time.
During our time together on the first LA trip, Matt and I wandered around the city and drank a lot of interesting drinks and talked about the Utah Jazz and Seinfeld (I don’t care for the show, but Matt’s got a Seinfeld quote for anything, and somehow it never gets old when I say something and then there’s this brief pause and then Matt says, “Well actually there was this one episode where…”). We did basically the same thing this time, except I stayed with Matt for five days and so I was treated to even more Seinfeld references and even watched several episodes. (I still don’t like the show; all the guys seem to be tremendous assholes with no redeeming value. They aren’t even cute!)
We went to see Jeff Goldblum play jazz. He’s a very talented jazz musician, and a very, very weird dude. We took a picture with him after the show, and the whole time we were posing, he kept making strange noises: “Mmmhmmm… yep…. mmmmm, yeah…. ahhhh… mmmhmmm.” As soon as we finished taking the pictures, he goes, “Aaaand I’m outta here.”
We spent a couple of the nights making delicious meals together and drinking awesome whiskey that I brought from Park City. I ate pho for the first time! It was phocking awesome. And we went to the Broad and stood in the Infinity Room. I don’t know that I felt infinite per se, but it was also… yes, you guessed it… awesome.
Then, on Sunday morning, I peeled open my eyelids and drove to San Diego just in time to watch the traffic pour into LA for the World Series game, Lakers, Sparks, and several other major sporting events taking place that night. I was glad to be heading in the opposite direction.
Chapter 3: Sandy Eggo and Tijuana
I spent a whole week here, and it passed in a haze of sleeping, reading, and spending time with Brian, one of my dearest loves. I think in my last blog, I referred to Brian as a soul mate. He always feels that way to me. We usually seem to be processing similar things at the same time, and I love listening to him talk about what he’s thinking because it helps me figure it out myself. He’s a good man who is always trying to be better, and I love that about him. And he’s always down for a jolly joke about poop. We also spent some nights making each other tasty vittles, but mostly we laid around in bed and talked about how rough it was to leave the Mormon Church and how we still find ourselves dealing with the fallout, all these years later. Christian guilt is a bitch.
Twice, Brian, his friend Tilly, and I went down to Tijuana and got into some trouble (good trouble, not bad trouble (well, I guess that depends on how you define good, but let’s just say we didn’t go to jail or anything like that)). It’s weird as fuck that you can walk across a man-made structure called a border and bam just like that you’re obviously in another country. Tilly worked her magic with a couple of dudes who live in Tijuana, and they kindly took us out to the good places. Did you know Tijuana has a fantastic microbrew scene? Yeah me neither.
As the situation with the migrant caravans agitates further and further, I find myself torn between wishing I had been there when the caravans arrived, and being relieved that I was not. I’d love to talk to some of the migrants, but there’s also been a lot of tension, and some of that has played out dangerously. I certainly find myself wishing that politicians in the United States on either side of the aisle actually gave a shit about finding a practical solution to the immigration situation, rather than kicking the can down the road and offering up ridiculous, pandering arguments in the meantime. Because let’s face it: If either side really wanted the problem solved, it would be. Neither really does, because it offers both sides convenient political talking points. As long as there are suffering migrants and immigrants, the Republicans can pander to their base by making brown people a convenient scapegoat for numerous problems (crime! job losses! crime!), and Democrats can pander to their base by bragging endlessly about how they’re the only ones who care about humanitarian issues because the Republicans are big, dumb meany-heads. Both parties are full of NIMBYs who don’t give a fuck about immigrants. It sucks.