Tuesday, March 11, 2008

one stretch of freeway

I'm back in LA. Driving down last night, I asked Ashley where we should meet. I'm staying at her place while she is off at SXSW this week. She asked me to meet her over in Santa Monica, at the Universal building, where she was still busy at work though it was nearing 8pm.

Its been a while since I've been on that side of town, especially arriving from up north. I tend to take the 101 off of the 405 and wind up in Hollywood where the Capitol Records building rises up and evokes all sorts of emotions, but this time I kept down the 405 and passed beneath The Getty Museum, shining up on the hill across the freeway from Bel Air.

A stream of memories came to me as I sped down that stretch. First it was a clip from sometime in my earlier childhood. I was stuffed deep in my parent's station wagon with my brother and bags and bags of clothes and toys and gifts, and we were headed down to my Grandparent's house for Thanksgiving. There was an accident there under The Getty, and traffic was stopped for miles. In the dark I remember vividly the splash of light from the headlights of the wrecked car in the third lane, the metal all bent back, and the glass all shattered across the pavement as we drove around it.

Then I thought about visiting the Museum with my grandparents a few years later. They are both now deceased and buried on the other side of Hollywood. It was a big deal to the family to see it, and to see it together. I cant remember much of the art. I want to say that I saw a few Van Goghs but I don't know. I just remember talking with my father as we walked along the concrete courtyards between the buildings. I remember a feeling of importance to the night.

I tried to visit another time, during that quick moment that I attended UCLA. My girlfriend was an art student and we planned to make a day of it, only to get in my car and up to the parking lot, to find it closed. We ended up driving around aimlessly through Bel Air and Beverly Hills looking at the huge houses and shiny cars, and I remember what she was wearing on that day and that she was more beautiful than on any other.

I've passed it a few times since, but it's been a long time. Even when I stopped going to school over there I would stay with friends in that area while we recorded Charmingly Awkward, and I remember the frustration, the nights where I just couldn't get to sleep on the couch, where I kept tossing around with ideas and concerns and excitement.

And right now it's just like that, only on a different side of town, on a different couch, and with a different set of songs and their own set of concerns. It still feels like life or death. It's funny how everything can change and it will all still feel the same.