Today’s post was supposed to be about our lovely honeymoon – how we stayed in these amazing guest cottages and met a dozen D-list celebs, and had the most amazing weather and how we are so in love.
Blah, Blah, Blah…
Who gives a crap?
Instead, let me tell you about today (monday).
I woke up at 5:19am because my newly acquired teen-age step-son doesn’t have a full grasp of time zones. From that point, it was off to the races. My mind was on fire: Work, bills, moving vans, AARP, cats. I couldn’t get my brain to shut off, so going back to sleep was impossible. Last time we were here, we missed our flight because I didn’t anticipate how difficult LAX traffic was. This time, I booked a 1:15 PM flight to JFK. That gave me 8 hours before take-off.
I was miserable.
I didn’t want to stay and I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to pack. I didn’t want to get dressed. I didn’t want to eat. It felt like the old days.
I trudged down the ladder from out loft bedroom, muttering the whole time. I wasn’t going to miss that stupid ladder at all.
Packing took all of 8 minutes. A shower and shave was another 15. It wasn’t yet 6am. I decided to change my day. I grabbed all of the things we weren’t bringing back home and headed out into the streets.
The morning had broken muggy and overcast. It wasn’t long before I regretted the long sleeve shirt and long pants what I was planning to wear on the plane. This was turning out to be a bad idea.
I headed down South Venice Blvd and through one of the alley’s that pass as thoroughfares in Venice Beach. I came upon a white guy in his late 30’s. He looked like he was 60. He was rummaging through the trash, pulling out some rags that he then stuffed into a tattered bag that he was carrying.
“Hey buddy, what size are you?” I asked.
“10” he replied.
I handed him the old sneakers I was carrying. “These are 10 1/2.”
“That’s ok. I’ll stuff newspaper in the tops.”
It’s the same thing my mother told us to do whenever we got someone’s hand-me-downs. “You’ll grow into them, just stuff tissue in the toes.”
He thanked me several times, and then went to shake my hand. I caught a whiff of his scent. It was the familiar odor of a drunk rotting from the inside out.
I bumped his fist with mine.
I ventured up the street. I ran into a young black kid, maybe 22, laying down on the sidewalk with a guitar case as a pillow. He rose as I approached him.
“You out here?” I asked.
He nodded sheepishly.
“Here’s some peanut butter and jelly, and some bread. Share it with them.” I nodded towards the other sleeping figures.
“God bless you.” He said as I made my way down towards the beach.
“He already has,” I replied.
There was a shanty-town down near the skate-park. Dozens of people sleeping in makeshift tents and refrigerator boxes. One older gentleman was sitting up grooming himself. I placed the two beach chairs we had purchased near his hovel.
“This is for anyone who needs them.”
“Thank you” He responded.
“Thank you.” called a voice from one of the tents.
No. Thank you.
I was ten pounds lighter as I made my way back to the cottage. I stopped by an early-morning movie shoot. Will Arnett was shooting some bad movie at the tennis courts behind Muscle Beach. I watched a few rehearsals before I left. I wondered if anyone saw the shanty-town 50 feet behind me. I wondered if Will Arnett even cared.
I was a little sad, and a little angry and a little bit jealous too. Jealous of the movie star, as well as the kid sleeping on the sidewalk. There was a part of him that was free. Once upon a time, I was going to be him. I was going to LA to live on the beach with nothing more than a guitar and a surfboard. I was going to live on the beach and party on Sunset with the Motely Crue and Van Halen wannabes, then I was going to be discovered by some movie mogul or a AnR man from Capitol Records.
I never got there. I wonder what would have happened if I did.
I made my way back into the canals. I wanted to walk the canals one last time before we left. Venice was starting to wake up. Garbage men were making their rounds; housewives were kissing their husbands and tending their gardens. Every 3rd house I passed welcomed me with the familiar aroma of a morning wake and bake. I said good morning to every one I encountered. I imagined myself as the eccentric author living in the canals. I would jog every morning weaning purple shorts and a yellow pimp hat waving to my neighbors. They would all smile and wave as I passed.
When I got back to the cottage, my wife was showered and dressed and writing in the guestbook. As most of you know, Valarie is an amazing writer. She can do more with a paragraph than I can with 2,000 words. Back in June, I entered two short stories into a writing contest. I got the rejection e-mails while we were in San Diego.
A rejection e-mail. You don’t even get the form letter anymore.
I was dejected when I got it, but my wife was there to pat me on the back.
I turned 50 in California.
I’m 50, with a wife.
And a house in Brooklyn.
And two cats.
And two teenagers.
We’re the 21st century version of the Brady Bunch.
I’m still moving to LA, just not today.
For now, it’s time to head home.