Over Labor Day of last year, I traveled to Los Angeles. Below are some random thoughts from my trip.
Before we knew it, the plane had touched down at the Long Beach Airport. The two and half hour flight from Seattle always goes more quickly than I think. Brandon is once again by my side for this trip, as we continue to journey across the country together. Soon, we are crowded around the dinner table of JR and Tim. The food is delicious, the wine flowing, and everything seems right in the world. It is amazing what good conversation filled with entirely too many sexual innuendoes can do. I am at peace and feel privileged to be here. I feel honored to be able to travel with the person I love more than any other.
Music is more than just sound filling empty spaces for me. It is cathartic, religious, addictive, and an outward expression of my inner self. Music is the poetry of my life. It says what I cannot, at least not yet. Amoeba Records in Hollywood, California is a cathedral for me and those who travel through its doors with nothing more than a few record titles and faith on our brains. As record shops shutter across this country, stores such as these stand tall like an old wooden cross. The sacrifice of their owners is worth appreciating for they are landmarks to me.
I have always been a night owl. As I age, I am finding it easier to rise in the mornings, but I would rather be slumbering. As our hosts began falling asleep around 9:45, I didn’t know what to do with myself. When I travel, I work hard to fill every available moment with activities. I guess I possess a fear of missing out on an experience or a moment I was meant to process. As Brandon and I laid out on their balcony listening to water quietly move through the marina, I felt inclined to leave and find something to do. Then it dawned on me; this is where I am meant to be. This moment is and was important, if for no other reason than its loving solitude.
I run a couple of times every week, bike when I can, and try to lift weights four times a week. I admit to not having the best diet in the world, but I am getting better. Brandon has been a wonderful partner in this regard. Despite my regiment, I am not the fittest man in the world, but I am no coach potato either. Still, no amount of training could have prepared me for the pain of kayaking. Now, this wasn’t my first time to join Tim and JR. Last time I was there, we made a short trip through the canals surrounding Naples. This time though, the journey was much longer and more arduous. A couple of hours into the trip every part of my upper body hurt. I felt like a bird flying south for the winter against the strongest of winds. As we departed our plastic vessels, I made a promise to myself; no more kayaking (at least not for a while).
Almost everyone I know in my adult life has left their childhood home. Most left for college, the military, or work that couldn’t wait. Finding home at this second stop, they decided to cover their roots and make their stand like noble and determined oaks. Still, others that I know are on their third, fourth, and fifth location. For them, home doesn’t seem to be a place, rather, it is an ideal. In my 32 years of living, I have called Frederick, Edmond, Kent, and Seattle home. Each required something different from me and each took varying spans of time before calling them home became comfortable. As Brandon and I begin to plot our future and all that entails, the prospect of moving is before us. Right now, we are focused on the possibility of life in Los Angeles. For a friend, like Tim, LA will never be home. He longs to move back to the Pacific Northwest and Seattle, where he feels at his best. I can’t help, but wonder how I will feel about living in Southern California. Will I learn to call it home? Will my character come to reflect its people and places? Or will I just be another transplant longing for some other place to call home?
As far as music venues are concerned, The Hollywood Bowl is one of those places every audiophile should visit. For as long as I have known of its existence, I have longed to see a show there. On this trip, I got to do just that. I’ll speak to the quality of the show in the next paragraph, but the venue was everything I imagined it would be. Nestled in the hills of Los Angeles, the Hollywood sign and downtown were visible from our seats. As music began to fill the air, the bowl acted as the perfect amphitheater. Then and there I got to check another accomplishment off of the old bucket list.
Now, let’s talk about the band I saw at the Hollywood Bowl. Have you ever heard of Empire of the Sun? Does EDM get you all jacked up? Do you love throbbing, pulsing music that never seems to change rhythm? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should have taken my seat, because this evening’s selection was not for me. Give me a guitar, singer/songwriter, and someone bleeding emotion from the stage every day of the week. What I saw may be called music to some, but it didn’t make me feel anything. Rather, I found myself afraid for the future of music. If Empire of the Sun is the direction we are going, then some of you more talented kids out there better find an instrument, put pen to paper, and pour yourself into your art. We need you!
Brandon is at his happiest near the ocean. To hear the waves crashing, walk through the golden sand, and seek shade under palm trees, offers him a sense of rejuvenation which is nothing short of an absolute joy to observe. We often talk about buying a beautiful modern home near the ocean. As we walked down Venice Beach, Brandon let me in and told stories of being a kid in Los Angeles and thinking this spot was the most magical in the world. As we stepped off the beach, I became even more determined to help him chase his dream.
When you are dating, traveling together is a leap of faith and determination. By selecting a day in the future, purchasing plane tickets, and making arrangements, you are telling the other person of your intentions to be together when the date to travel arrives. Taking this leap with Brandon, isn’t hard for me. In fact, it is one of the easiest decisions I have ever made in my life. Like most couples, we talk of our future and there is always a focus on where we will travel, the things we will see, and what we wish to do. It is refreshing to be with someone who shares my passion and believes there is a world beyond our borders. As each day rolls by, I get more and more excited about exploring the world with my partner.
Finally, I have been coming to Los Angeles my whole life. I’ve made family trips, road trips, and visits to friends. Only once have I been able to travel to LA on my own terms. I was 20. It was spring break. Matt Patterson and I had more cash than we needed and a burning desire to explore. It was one of the most memorable trips of my life. It was filled with stories that I still tell to this day. I miss the independence, the sense of wonder, and the awe. With this in mind, the next time I travel to LA, I will do it on my own terms. I will visit the places important to me. I will set my own pace. I will eat where and when I want. (P.S. Brandon will have a big say in all of this). I will be the sole creator of my memories. My observations will belong to me. I will be responsible for the moments made and those kept. As I travel more and more, I can’t think of anything more important.
Be good to each other,