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Cutting at Oblique Angles (Doing Things the Hard Way)

Wed, Oct 31, 2001 11:57AM -0800

I crept out of the depths of Union Station on Alameda Street at 11pm last night, and gazed at the buildings on Bunker Hill and started softly singing "Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers to myself.... "Sometimes I feel/like I don't have a partner/Sometimes I feel/like my only friend/is the city I live in/the City of Angels/Lonely as I am/Together we cry," and I felt as if it were the aftermath of a trans-Pacific trip, but I felt good, it felt good to just sink in between cool sheets on a soft bed and crash once and for all. Abruptly waking up in Miami, spending time in Purgatory (AKA O'Hare) trying to measure the dimensions of my soul, landing in LAX where they swear a car-bomb is on its way anytime now and memories come crashing together like so many waves, fleeting memories washed away by the balm of sleep. I love dreaming of the sea.

Because I am clearly insane, I decided to take MTA trains from the airport to downtown, which actually wouldn't have been too bad if I hadn't missed my first transfer point. Now is it just me, or doesn't it seem stupid that you have to transfer twice in order to get to downtown L.A. from LAX?

So I must've hung around in Watts (at the Rosa Parks station) for a good half-hour or so, and got to play around with my new cel phone (yes I finally gave in) and my sister decided to comment about how I might just get killed and she'd be the last person to hear me alive, but it was fine, I could've been on any public transport system in the country, really, and yes, people actually do take public transport in L.A. All the train cars were actually quite crowded, people had to stand in the aisles, and this was already way past rush hour.

But I am still far from coherent.

It is strange to find all the things I left here at my parents' house when I was on summer vacation still in the same place, and it's incredible how even three months ago can become a distant memory. Slips of paper with phone numbers, detritus from my trip to New York in May, Radiohead paraphanelia. Stranger still is the feeling of accumulating strata at this house. There is the stuff I left behind when I went to college, stirring up ancient memories of high school. There are the things I accumulated in college, still piled up haphazardly in the closet, unopened for three years, ghosts still hovering over it. And now there are the little scraps from these vacations I've taken... that mad summer when I no longer wanted to go to med school, the two past Christmases with my family, my sister wearing her snowboarding gear as she surfed the web, the past February that now seems like years ago when the fiery clouds stoked fires in my heart even as some hopes finally faded to dust and all I did was watch French movies to pass the time, and now this past summer when I had finally awoken from my age-old nightmares, and I felt like I could conquer the world, though now that feeling of invincibility is tempered with the autumn (yes there is an autumn in Southern California, and even that phrase evokes layers and layers of memories, evoked by the smell of burning leaves, as Santa Ana winds fan the flames over the dry leaves....) It is incredible what I have learned, and incredible still how quickly I have forgotten, and now all of the sudden everything clicks in to place, the story is made whole, flattened, linear, and I can't help but laugh at the circles I have been running in because I couldn't remember the whole story.

It is strange to see these bits and pieces of my life juxtaposed like that, forcing me to thread the fragments together, weave a narrative tale, whittle down the past to size, refine the good parts, rewrite or maybe even completely omit the bad parts, and it is strange to think of memories just like they were material things, and I find it a little funny that it's not until now that I understand the need to throw certain things away because keeping them around isn't really doing me any good.

Digging deep enough, it becomes increasingly clear that the answers have never lain in the past. Your brain throws away memories all the time... If you didn't, you'd become just like S, the man who couldn't forget a thing. And so I have finally learned the beauty of throwing things out. If you don't need it anymore, throw it away.

Both the past and the future only have worth in so far as they determine what is Now.

Easier said than done, sure, what with my packrat personality, but it is a wonderful thing to be unburdened, carrying everything you need (like my friend Bram) in no more than two suitcases. Bits and pieces will always stick to you, there is no such thing as clean (there is no such things as sinless) but we try the best we can. If you can't find a place for it, it needs to go.

So here we go. As I've said, I'm exactly where I want to be: this feeling like things are about to happen. On to new adventures.

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