the destroyer > cheap papers > Drew Krewer
PREOCCUPATION WITH MYSELVES IN LOS ANGELES
I have spent two months trying really hard not to write about Los Angeles.
It seems so predictable, like the tourist fanny pack, to write about a new home, especially when its promise of permanence is contingent upon a host of unpredictable factors.
This place is consuming me.
I feel like I’m forming antimemories here. If memories were subatomic, the memories I’d be forming here would be neutrinos, little bits of weakly charged matter created after reactions within the sun or, if we’re thinking of something closer to home, within a nuclear reactor. Something so huge and powerful that all that can remain in its wake are just traces of something having happened.
Maybe I’m lying right now. Feeling genuine in the moment means nothing after the moment has passed.
Let’s do lunch sometime, as in, never.
I’m not one to remember my dreams. Over the past five years, I don’t remember any dreams vividly. In the past two months, I’ve had one dream I remember slightly, and two that were quite lucid.
The first involved me escaping to a home in the country with an acquaintance of mine from the desert. I remember flowing curtains and her recently changed hair color, as evidenced by Facebook.
One night, after a boring date, I park my car on the side of the street, ascend the staircase to my guesthouse, take a shower, give my cat a treat, and go to bed. I awaken to sprinklers popping out of the lawn. I walk down the paved and hilly terrain of my neighborhood to find the back half of my car completely gone. I hear a noise of soldering and discarding. A group of three men are harvesting the back ends of cars. I stand in the middle of the street and ask them if they’ve seen the rest of my car. They haven’t. Then, I notice my Arizona plate and bright yellow bumper peeking out of the pile. I point. I run down the street. My hair is going everywhere and I’m screaming.
A new environment requires a negotiation. Of who one was, who one is (in a new context), and who one hopes to become.
I was a good neighbor. I was a Kramer. The kook who knocked on your door and dropped by for conversation for however long seemed appropriate at the time. I lived in the reality where more than a handful of friends either owned or had access to pools. I was surrounded by a lively community of writers. I was a local celebrity for a hot minute, something I retreated away from rather quickly, falling into the shadows of poetry and intimate cocktail parties. I was quickly forgotten. Writing it now, it all seems very fabulous, and it was. The desert was fabulous and cheap and the best possible place for me to spend the latter end of my twenties.
Who am I in Los Angeles? How is it inhabiting me?
This is an exercise about how to be badass in isolation.
I woke up exhausted, someone was repeatedly pounding on the neighbor’s door, the alarm went off, my commute was in the distance. The sun was just beginning to rise, I blinked my eyes as I drove to work, which was located on a hill overlooking the ocean, which may or may not have been occluded by smog. As I took a sharp turn, traffic came to a momentary stop. A single lime rolled around the corner of the highway between the front two wheels of my car. As the traffic shook itself loose, I approached a puree of lime all across the freeway. A truck carrying crate after crate of limes had unleashed its cargo across four or five lanes. A fleet of bulldozers were shoveling limes from the asphalt; the air smelled of citrus product and tar; limes were flinging out behind tires; if only there were a harvest of gin and designated drivers.
On display in the exhibit are two costumes from a movie that deeply changed my life. I feel close to the movie, close to the Hollywood machine and the magic. Looking at the didactics on the wall, I realize one of the costumes is a reproduction and the other is an original. I am torn between feeling close to history and feeling completely deceived.
Someone I met at a party described his job as “not being real.”
I am driving around the hills of my neighborhood at night, passing celebrity homes as I wind up higher and higher. I am looking for Justin Bieber’s million dollar pad. I am listening to NPR chatter about the upcoming election. In the distance, I see a truck approaching slowly. As the truck passes by, the man driving turns to face me. Our eyes lock. A long knife blade sticks out of his forehead, not as if he had been stabbed, but as if genetics had dictated this facial weaponry. His eyes return to the road in front of him as he slowly drives away, leaving me winding my way up the hill, looking for a home that may or may not be an imaginary by-product of an empty rumor mill.
In this new space, this LA, I feel like there is no cohesion to my self-concept. It’s as if my daily emotions and actions are coming from this automated place that is as emotionless as it is nondescript.
That’s how I’d describe it today, anyway.
It might be possible, too, that this is a stripped down version of me. Or a heightened me. Maybe I’m faced with confronting who I’ve become, or who I am. And what is the difference between those two versions of myself? Maybe this process is paralyzing. Maybe this is me becoming thirty.
Here is where the subjective and objective, the imagined and the real collide.
The night after I wrote about creating antimemories, I went to see a new friend perform his own music for the first time in front of an audience. All of the acts preceding him were supremely talented, a wave of talent. How do we distinguish ourselves in a wave of talent? In a city populated by talent?
That evening I held, for the first time since my arrival, a satisfying conversation with a complete stranger. I felt threads of connection, threads that weren’t emanating from a place of automation. Something real was being teased out of me.
My friend went on and played his power ballads in a clear, honest, and forceful way. One makes memories to music played with such a degree of surround.
That evening saved me in some small way.
A memory was made, and then I drove home.