The thing about L.A. before you even land is the lights. Everywhere. Like a circuit board. Beneath or at least near each is a story, a life, a world. Only a glance and I'm reminded of that. It's late, but I know the way it would look in the sunlight, the circuit boards stretching between the foothills and the sea, the life filling every crevice. But I am somewhat comforted by these thoughts. They distract from the sensation of my ears recalibrating to the shifting pressure through our descent.
Where I previously pondered how nothing spurs the familiarity I feel arriving in Portland, I suddenly realize I could say, looking at this ocean of electroluminescence, that nothing could ever recreate or replace Los Angeles. In ways I never realize until these final moments marveling as the city spreads across the horizon as far as can be imagined, it seems unconstrained and inimitable.
I am convinced in this moment that the city is limitless, recreating itself as it crawls across the landscape. Too many discount it as a disjointed whole lacking some maturity shared by the world's great destinations. But it is only here, it is only this sea of stories crashing upon each other, glittering from the ripples in the water. As the waves draw near I know I am here, only here, perhaps realizing only further that home means far less than a mindset. It is just another constructed identity.
Later, on the Fly Away, even in the dark, even among the all-male handful of riders, I reconnect with Los Angeles. The creaking, vibrating bus brings me back, even though I can see little out the windows as we drive up the Harbor freeway in the middle of the night. My thoughts earlier may have landed in Portland, but now I am taking off to this next step, to a broader sensation, to travel, to movement, to a world outside my doors and beyond my routine.
Maybe i spoke too soon about home, about how it is defined, about what I've internalized. Perhaps when I discussed the comfort of Portland I was more right than I thought about what it meant to be home, that it wasn't a place or time, just a sensation, a way of life, a way of knowing that all other moments spread out from this one, here.
I wrote this piece more than a week ago, still longing wistfully for Portland but certain upon taking off through the streets of L.A. there was more to learn about the city that beckoned my entire life. How could I now desire Portland when I knew I had barely scratched L.A.'s surface?
I struggled publishing any of this, as the week evolved and I tumbled back into my consciousness and fumbled through my everyday, trying to make sense of it, not knowing how any of these cities I stumble through fit together. I struggled with this split feeling, the sensation that all too often I feel these days, that leaves me paralyzed, not sure how to take off. The deep split. Do I try to bridge these chasms, learn to live on one side, or remain forever at the edge, contemplating a leap?
This matters to me because I struggle with what this site might become and what it could be. I am studying journalism and practicing it, and yet I have no energy left for it here, where I declare myself to the world. Likewise, I use the name of my father's column, but I've yet to really capture the essence of what he did with it, or even attempt to. I keep pondering who is out there, hungry for information and reading this, judging and deciding to either follow what I have to say or take off, never to return again, because I have yet again said little of substance and produced little of the environmental and science and cultural reporting I've promised, and, instead, have sunk into this same self-absorbed pondering of urban choices, these private splits that I should resolve before the public gets involved, yet this is my lens, this is my now.
That said, get a taste of some of my previous reporting by visiting my clips page.