I feel like I owe a karmic apology, whatever that might even mean, to all the folks I’ve ever made fun of when they say they’re jet lagged after flying from one coast to the other. Oh please, I usually scoff, Wait until you fly across an ocean! Then I’ll feel sorry for you! I’m such a travel snob. Maybe it’s another sign of aging, but I’m fully in the jet lag weirdness since arriving here yesterday… So my heart goes out to you, non ocean-traversing traveler. I am sorry! I should have screamed it from the top of the canyon, where I was in the morning, happily adding myself to the cliché of hiking in the canyon in the morning. I was by myself, passing pairs and groups on my way up the cement path. More than once I heard folks talking about actors, actresses or scripts. Well it is the epicenter of the entertainment industry so why should I be surprised but it still seemed unexpected. I felt mildly out of shape in an east-coast-urbanity way but also full of energy, having not smoked a cigarette in over a month. I’m always bifurcated.
After spending way more time hiking than I expected to, and loving every moment of it, except maybe for the part when I was caught in the middle of a strange shuttle run of sorts between this inordinately fit middle aged gay latino couple and their tiny fucking ratdogs, who kept passing me then going behind me then passing me and I was like please kill me, I went to the Museum of Death, which really should be called the Museum of Murder. It’s pretty disgusting. I went there because part of what I’m doing here is working on a piece where I’m talking about killing a piece of mine, so it seemed right. Research. I got caught up looking at how good a lot of these serial killers’ artwork is. Drawings and paintings that would make great tattoos if it weren’t for the fact that the artist had snuffed out people’s lives in horrifying ways. I was comforted by my own disgust, taking it as bone marrow level proof that my moral compass is alive and well.
Earlier, on the hike, I’d been thinking about M non-stop, wondering if he would enjoy doing something like that. Maybe if you’re from here you reject all of the cliché things, like most natives of anywhere do. I took pictures I wanted to send him later and imagined us living here and hiking every Saturday morning, wearing just the right combination of sporty/hipster hiking outfits. But my visit to the Museum of Death was something to be experienced alone – although there were lots of couples there, which makes you wonder about people.
M recommended a bookstore here that he said was one of his favorite places on earth so I thought I’d check it out after lunch. I googled “Best Mexican places in LA” and picked the second place on the list and Wazed it there only to discover that it was basically a fucking Chipotle with a different name. I’m a terrible tourist and have always been. I was ravenous though so I ate my shame and then made my way through a street fair downtown. There were a couple of tents/booths… tentbooths? with gay stuff. One of them was devoted to PrEP and the cute guy/tentbooth barker was like Do you know about PrEP? All smiley about it and I said Yes of course, is this lube free? I pointed at the bottles arranged in a Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation pyramid and he said, Well yeah, so what happens here is that we talk some stuff and then we give you things! I said Ok. We’d done the PrEP convo I guess so he asked Well do you know about PEP? and again I said Yes and seeing as any further interaction was predicated on my ignorance of things I already knew about, I took the bottle of lube and walked.
M is right – the bookstore is beautiful. It was comforting being somewhere he loves and loving it, too. I wandered through the rare book annex, and then to poetry and then wandered up to Latin American History. I went to see that super famous queer theorist last night at the nice theater that’s never presented my work and probably never will, and she was giving a talk about mourning and the work of that super famous Colombian artist and one of the notes I took was “Latin American History” as in, read some more of it, dumbass. I tried telling my sister about it this morning – I went to see ____ last night and she said Who’s that? And I said, Um, just about one of the most important queer theorists alive and she said Oh well newsflash I’m queer and so I don’t need to READ about being queer I’m LIVING it. There’s no arguing with her.
I was debating whether or not to buy two if not more books and then reminded myself that I’ve got enough on my plate book wise right now so I got up and started weaving back through the aisles when he passed me. I spontaneously whispered his name as if playing a get-to-know-you theater game but he didn’t hear me. He seemed hellbent on getting to whatever section he was walking to. I paused, delighted, and for a split second almost wanted to tell him Hey! Hey! I’m so and so and I’m here doing a show and…. but immediately dismissed the ridiculousness of this. The whole store, the whole city is built on lay lines of celebrity and power that glow in the dark if you turn the lights off. It was on my mind already having seen at least three film shoots since arriving. I love it. I love being surrounded by fiction. The promise of a constructed story rather than the haphazard one I’m living. This fantastical store housing this purveyor of fantasy. It was almost shocking to consider that he reads. He reads! I read. M reads. We all read and imagine things and (sometimes) realize them. I thought about how J helms a machinery of imagination that costs and makes millions of dollars – should I judge him for that? – and we’re crossing paths in the sci-fi section of this beautifully run down store.
Back downstairs I saw him again at the register with who I assumed were his wife and their son and I had a moment of Well look at you, good parents! Bringing your child to this beautiful bookstore. Congrats to you! Tried not to stare but took a moment to take them all in – this family at the bookstore, this man responsible for making things that I’ve given hours of my life to. So strange.
I texted M when I left. I saw ______. He wrote back You’ve been there 24 hours! And I wrote – Fame finds me.