This may be the hardest one of these I've had to write and for a number of reasons. I've already explained why I made the decision I did, but now I have to face that decision. Along the way of this journey I've made many people proud, I've learned so much about myself and I made some great memories. On the other side of that coin; I've let close friends down, spent $5,000 of my hard earned savings (I know talking about money is gauche but I'm honest and vulnerable on this blog so I'll put it all out there), I've walked away from a place I idealized to the point of impossibility, and put myself in a type of purgatory. Some of you see what I did as brave, and to all of you I want to say thank you. Some of you see what I did as foolish and cowardice, and to you I ask you to see things through my eyes. I could be angry at my friends who think they know what's best for me. I could say "fuck you, only I know what's best for myself"and I would be justified in that sentiment. The hard truth is, it kills me to know the ones I love could see me that way. Almost all of my friends welcomed me back with open arms, almost being the key word. Some say I didn't give it a chance, maybe they're right. Some say I followed my heart and that took balls, maybe they're also right. The one thing they don't see, and it's the thing as clear as day to me. That thing is the area code my family rests inside of, simple as that. I could have left and built something, it would have taken years (which I was willing) but those years would have been a desert without an oasis (no Wonderwall. Dated joke). One must suffer to get the things he or she wants, this is true. Perhaps a simple Sunday dinner with four familiar faces is all I need to be truly happy. I'm honestly getting sick of trying to justify this to the masses, I'm getting sick of feeling I failed without trying. I faced a fear, laughed in its face then headed back to my true home. That's how I see it, perhaps you don't. For all of you who see it as a failure or as me running away, Fuckkkkk. Youuuu. I would never turn my back on a true friend or make them fell less because I disagreed with them. I would carry them through a fire even if they lit the match, because that's friendship, that's family. You know who you are that made me fell ashamed, and you know who you are that made me swell with pride. It's possible I'm blowing this out of proportion. All I did was drive really far, hang out in the sun for a few weeks then fly home. On paper that's not too impressive, but what it represented to me was indescribably important and valuable. It's a shitty feeling to be both overjoyed and painfully ashamed, I hate it and it's a crown impaling my heart. I want to punch a hole through the screen just thinking of all the snickering people (to be honest I'd rather plant one in your fucking faces) but I'll try to rise above. In a time of adversity your real friends show their true colors because "true friendship isn't about being there when it's convenient, it's about being there when it's not." I pride myself on always being there but don't always get that back and I'm ok with it most of the time. I know my true loved ones just want me to shine, spread my wings and not drive a fucking fork truck my whole life. I love you for wanting more for me, wanting the most for me. I also want you to love me when my mind isn't clear or my path isn't straight. I'd love you if you were dumping a dead body in an open field. Hell, I'd dig the hole and never ask why. You don't have to do the same for me, you don't have to get your hands dirty, but I will. For you, I'd always get my hands filthy if it meant you didn't have to shoulder the load alone. Well fuck, I haven't said one god damn funny thing this whole time so far (minus that lame oasis joke). Sorry for that, maybe I just needed to get some serious shit out. I hate the feeling of being upset and happy at once, lost but found. Let's switch gears a bit and talk about my final days in California. Just a warning, some moments are happy and some are pretty dark (fun read right?). Thursday day I didn't do a ton, little bit of writing and random meals. The important part of Thursday was the fact it was my last night together with Ben and Riquel. They were heading to Vegas Friday Afternoon to see Slayer that weekend (pretty bad ass). I wanted to thank my host family by taking them out to dinner, but where? The only place we all agreed on was Morfia's BBQ.
Morfia's is some of the best BBQ I've ever had in my life. I've been there a few times now and every meal is sweet ambrosia. Sweet ambrosia? Who the fuck talks like that? I already regret writing it but sadly it fits perfectly, sorry. I treated Ben and Riquel to piles of meat and sides; ribs, brisket, pulled pork, mac and cheese, beans and corn bread. Every bite swelled our bellies to discomfort but we pressed on. Once we were done we grabbed a quick drink next door then headed home to loosen our belts a few notches.
Friday was my last full day in LA and my hosts (B and Q) last few hours before their Vegas trip. While my roomies were at work I wandered around Santa Monica, got some Jack in the Box for lunch.
Never underestimate the deliciousness of a meat lovers burrito with hot sauce. After Jack I strolled over to Sonny Mclean's for a beer or two. I was happy to hear that Benny would meet me for a drink after work. I sat there in the poor excuse for a Boston bar (points for effort) and wished I was 3,000 miles east.
Gas is fucking expensive out here! But those flowers are pretty!
We enjoyed our drinks then headed back to the apartment so Ben could pack. Ben surprised me by saying "fuck it, let's get In and Out" so we jumped in his car and headed for the best burgers in the west. Ben packed it in, I ate way less because of the Jack in the Box but still enjoyed every fresh bite.
We made our way back to 9th street (Riquel and Ben's beautiful neighborhood) and I said my good byes and thanked my friends for hosting me so long. After B and Q were gone I figured I should make the most of my last night in LA. Shockingly all my west coast friends were MIA that night, which was cool but emblematic of the whole experience. I decided head to Big Dean's for a farewell drink. On my way to the ocean-side watering hole I had an interesting conversation with my uber driver. I told him the cliff notes version of my journey and he laughed. He apologized and said it made for a great story and he wasn't laughing at me, he was laughing that I hit the nail on the head so quickly. "Family is the most important thing" he told me, so that made me feel really good. I indulged at sizable Dean's with two tall beers while I sat there alone.
Fuck this place and The Eagles.
After the tables and chairs were stacked up at slightly above medium Dean's, I made my way to Chez Jay. Just some back story about Chez Jay, it's a historical dive bar in Santa Monica that hosted the Rat Pack, Marilyn (Monroe, duh) and JFK's secret canoodling in the back, an elephant (not sure how he fit in there) and a steady surface for many penned scenes of "Good Will Hunting." Oscar winners Jason Borne and Batman rested their neophyte (at the time) asses in these booths to craft cinematic magic. That's Chez Jay, it has its own unique pulse, I both love and loathe it (you'll see).
In Chez Jay I ordered a beer and sat in an empty bar seat then was quickly kicked out by the bartender who informed me that seat was occupied. I stood awkwardly for minute and spotted an empty booth. I plopped down and started to feel more lonely than before (didn't think that was possible). Partway through my second beer a girl politely asked me if her and her friends could join me. I was pretty confused by the odd request but welcomed the company. The girl was incredibly interesting and told me tales about hanging out with Keith Richards and doing drugs with him. Then another yarn about her friend switching pants with the infamous Rolling Stone. I might have chocked this up to embellishment but then she provided me with photographic proof. I told her she should write a book then informed me her quiet friend (sitting next to her) was a writer for Vice magazine and penned many of her encounters (good, people need stories like that). She and her friend took off and I was alone again. After about 15 minutes two gorgeous tall blondes asked to join me. I was perplexed at first but in the theme of the night, I went with the flow. These girls told me a couple stories but were more interested in mine. I told them all about my road trip then decision to leave, if I knew girls like these wanted to spend time with me I may have stayed (not really but it was nice). Fuck, I've been writing this blog for almost three hours. It's 2:36am as write this, I've already cried once, almost smashed my laptop, had a couple drinks and debated just deleting it all. We press on, because I got a really big team and they need some really big rings! Sorry, Drake is playing on my phone. Where was I? Oh yes, Chez Jay with the impossibly hot blonde ladies that were really friendly. After hanging for about an hour we planned on going somewhere else. They asked if I wanted to go to downtown LA to a dance club (never ever folks). I declined because I hate clubs and was ready to call it a night. The more vocal girl looked really disappointed by my decision then thanked me for not being boring with the conversation and they headed out. Two gorgeous blondes asked me to get in a car with them...perhaps I fucked that up? Oh well, I'll assume it could have been amazing but I played it cool and stayed behind. Yea. I fucked up, oh well.
While at Chez Jay I wrote some poetry while inspired by the ghosts of former greats who graced those walls. The first time I was there with Ben (a year ago) I wrote something and this time I did the same. It felt important to create in the same location as Oscar winners, even if my creation was small. We still shared an inspirational space and made something, granted theirs was much better. I must warm you, these prose are on the dark side (sense a theme?).
Second take (darker, I agree).
After missing the opportunity of going home with my leggy booth-mates I headed back to Ben's and crashed. Saturday morning rolled around (my last day in LA). I hung around most of the day then packed all my shit. I got my last Krispy Kremes (had to do it), some more junk food then took a nap.
My flight was at 9:30pm so when I woke up at 6pm, it was plenty of time for a last west coast meal. I landed at The Misfit for that impossibly perfect chicken sandwich.
I was running low on time so I scarfed it down then flew back to grab my bags. I locked the house, called the uber and went to the airport. I got through security and headed to the bar for a pre flight/good bye LA drink.
The lady next to me was so annoying I had to listen to my headphones to avoid pushing her off her stool (not literally). She finally left and I chatted the clearly Boston-bound man next to me. He bought me a shot, we toasted the bean (Boston) then headed to the gate. I was graced with the middle seat but I didn't mind really. I had some movies loaded on my Ipad (since United Airlines lives in the dark ages of air travel and doesn't have screens on the seats somehow). Ordering drinks was a god damn process so I limited my Jack and Coke consumption. I watched "Spectre" (new James Bond) for the second time and still didn't love it but liked it more the second time around. I really had to pee (from the aforementioned Jack and Cokes) and my row mate was doubled over the fold down tray so I was trapped.
I poked that broad right in the ribs when my first attempt to wake her failed. When you gotta go, you gotta go. We were ahead of schedule and as we started our decent, I couldn't see anything cool out of my window. I happened to glance out the window across the aisle and saw the sweetest sight in the distance, the glowing Citgo sign that hangs next to Fenway Park. It was like seeing my own heartbeat again on an EKG machine. I grinned and knew it would be a hard few weeks but I had what it took to survive. We landed and filed off the packed plane. I stepped off and felt a weight lift off my shoulders.
My father picked me up at my gate and I still had a weird purgatorial feeling. I explained it all to Chip (that's my Dad's name) and he tried to set my heart at ease. I got back to 14 Sunset Dr, the place I grew up and left not one month before. I was back, was my tail between my legs? I say no but many would disagree, you fucks know who you are. I grabbed a couple hours of sleep then had to bring my parents BACK to the airport. They booked a trip to Washington DC for Easter weekend to see the cherry blossoms because they were upset I wouldn't be around for the holiday (jokes on them!). As soon as I was reunited with the very people I wanted to return to, they left (haha ironic right?!). Mom left me a lovely Easter basket (just a reminder, I'm 32 but welcome infantilization on holidays).
Ignore the Miracle Whip, inside joke with me and Val.
My sister Taylor (biologically my cousin but we're very close and have been all our lives) wanted to cook for me, her boyfriend Joe (also like family to me) and my aunt (second mother to me) for Easter. She came by with all the food, cooked it like a damn pro (it was her fist time too, well done Tay).
It felt really good to have family around after this fucking excursion. Jesus god damn Christ, I've been writing for over 4 hours! Anyway, we laughed, told stories, ate great food and even watched a video of me at my aunt's house when I was 3 years old. Trust me, I was painfully adorable. I wore a backpack everywhere, always had a bottle in my hand and chased cats around the house. After cleaning the dishes and dealing with a large water leak on the floor, I got in the car and headed to meet my man Keegan to finally see "Batman V Superman, Dawn of Justice." I know this blog is getting longwinded but I must say the critics are wrong on this one, this movie fucking RULES! Movie review to come on this bad boy I think (stay tuned).
Keegan and I had to sit in the car and discuss the movie for about a half hour (pretty short for us). I felt more at home that I had in ages, talking in depth about superhero movies with one of my best friends. That brings us to today (Monday). I met with my old boss to discuss my trip and possibly coming back to work (looks decent but not guaranteed), watched too much TV then got the best pizza in the land, Little Italy (shout out to my man Garret).
We are now all caught up on my fucked up and complicated life, the blog shall continue though. Just to recap it all; I drove 3,825 miles (90% alone), spent thousands of dollars, drank out of a boot, made countless memories, found myself, had a change of heart, came home and now I'm close to broke, I'm single, unemployed and living with my parents. Who would have thought 32 would be this jagged of a path, luckily I find straight lines boing. This isn't the last you'll hear from me folks, thanks for reading!
Keep smiling (even when the answers you want come at a large price)