This is now my last day of my trip out in SoCal. I actually still have tomorrow morning out here but I really couldn’t count that as a full day anyway. A big part of that day will be spent for traveling back east. Friday was also majorly travel day. I would’ve arrived at SD earlier if not for the mishap at my plane. Blame it on my travel karma that I would pick a plane with a female pilot (which is a good thing) running on auxilliary power because the right generator was not “fixable but deferable.” But I arrived anyway and had a quick taste of SD with a late lunch at the W. Saturday was also travel day since we drove from SD to LA for a short weekend. Monday was travel day too since we had to drive back from SD to LA. Even much of today will be spent on traveling as we drive to the Cove at La Jolla. It’s not even over yet and I already realize that this week-long vacation is quite full of traveling. I can safely say that I have not been in (car) transit this much in a few days in a long while. I can also proudly say that, despite the bumpy flight on Friday, I have enjoyed every moment of riding around in a car from one point to another, whether planned or not from the point of origin. I know it’s cliché but this certainly is one of those trips where the journey is more important, if not more enjoyable, than the destination.

I hate going to places where a car is a necessity because I hate driving. The places I love to visit are the big cities where mass transit is well-established and where walking is more a preferred option out of healthy habits rather than as a mark of car deprivation. SF. Chicago. Seattle. South Beach. Toronto. Montreal. Honolulu. London. Vancouver. Boston. Ptown. Nova Scotia. Vegas. Fire Island. These places are all manageable on foot, or through mass transit, and I have managed to enjoy them much. SoCal has always been initmidating because of that basic need for a car. I saw Crash last year and was struck by that line about how the buses in LA have clear windows because people want to make a spectacle out of the busriders. It was more than a need; it was also a mark. The car is a metaphor for SoCal.

Putzing around on Manhunt, I was certainly amused by one reply that I don’t get back in NYC which is, “do I have to park the car on the road?” He must be asking if my building had a garage. (Damn. If it had to be this complicated back east, then I really don’t think I’d even bother half the time.) This just reaffirms this city’s fixation with the car. Understandably so, since the car is the lifeblood of connection. Every point is a few miles away and the lack of a car is sheer social suicide.

The car is a metaphor for Socal. SoCalifornians seem to be obsessed with the surface, as much as the car is just as sleek as its shine. (Posers, of course, also exist in abundance back in NYC, but Hans and I agreed that the posers back in NYC do so to make a comment about themselves — where they went to school, what they do, where they live — as opposed to the poseurs I met out here who do so to make a comment about other people — what they don’t look like.) They are also suckers for status, as much as the car is, of course, an object of symbol. Needless to say, there seems to be an inherent need for alcohol, reminding me of the gas guzzlers including SUVs that this region luvs to parade around in. (I still can’t get over the tables next to us at Cafe Etoile in Weho for Sunday brunch — there were the 2 homos already drinking martinis before noon who followed the vodka with a crisp bottle of champagne; and the woman who was just having a glass of chardonnay that she plunks down the bread basket for her dog to enjoy.) Shine, symbol and that constant search for liquid sustenance, it is too much of an appropriate image to not be worth stretching. The car is also the means by which the people get to the coast, in as much as Socal is defined by the Pacific. All roads lead to the ocean and I believe that the car is the means that is just as good as its end.

I particuarly enjoyed the drive back from LA to SD. Hans and I rented a Ford Mustang convertible and drove it down the Pacific Coast Highway (which stretches all the way up to Seattle.) (Luke had to drive back on his own car early Monday morning to make it to work.) It was just a lovely drive down. The wind was blowing against our faces; the sun on our skin; the surf as if kissing the tint of our shades all the way down. We saw the dolphins off the whaling point in San Vicente. We zigzagged down Palos Verdes and stopped for lunch at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. We eventually hit the suburbs of San Diego just in time to catch the sunset off Del Mar. Then, I began to realize why artists wax so much about California. More than the glare of superficiality in what is bred inland; its heart bleeds from the ocean where the glow of beauty is but natural. I have certainly been impressed by the (west) Hollywood cultture where a glass of chardonnay is light lunch and a few martinis will effectively make them full; where an endless parade of boys coming to and from gym are not an unusual sight on a midweek morning when everyone else would have already been in their offices back in NY; where it seems every second is a show as riding a bus at 10 AM on 90-degree weather warrants a boucle-suit and pearls; where everyone always seems to be on an altered state induced by alcohol or by a chemical drug, as if the glare of Hollywood has numbed everyone around it warranting the need for aids to procuring palpable emotion. But I know that what will linger in my memory will be the coastline at day’s end. Stripped of any artifice, refreshing and reassuring is the horizon melancholic in its burning, orange fading into purple melting into pink, submissively, helpelssly into the edges of the Pacific. With the top down. Hans quiet on the wheel and myself, sunglasses heavy on my windblown cheeks, smiling, simply moved by the Pacific passing by and life coasting on.

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