“Don’t tell anyone how weird I am!” is the phrase I screamed out of my pimp ass ride – a 2008 Toyota Sienna Minivan – while cruising down the streets of Los Angeles last weekend.
My manager and amateur badass chauffer-slash-tour guide – was a trouper and put up with me during the trek into Los Angeles to show me the sights. I was there for business but calling it that seems so wrong considering how much goddamn fun I had. So let’s call it a “business-pleasure extravaganza” for the sheer sake of naming things creepily.
It was my first time in LA and my manager, being a good sport, offered to drive me into Beverly Hills to see Rodeo Drive and the surrounding area. I saw. I gushed. I marveled who-in-the-hell-lives-here? at the gaudy and gorgeous houses and thanked my lucky stars I didn’t have a mortgage payment anywhere close to these people.
The sights of LA made me giddy. I snapped what I could, nearly getting my arm taken off by another car as I stuck it out the window to blindly shoot. I’ll take that commitment to the bit, folks.
Then one of us had the sparkling brilliant idea to find the Hollywood Sign. “It’s just up the road,” were the fateful words. After arguing with Siri for nearly ten minutes, getting directed to a place called Hollywood Sign COMPANY (Bad, Siri, bad!), and nearly mowing down two kids on bikes, we finally caught a glimpse of the white blocked letters.
Let’s just say we worked that minivan. Hard. Three wrong turns and blind corners later we stumbled upon it high on a hill, with houses and a neighborhood reminiscent of the movie Laurel Canyon. I kept expecting Christian Bale to come bounding out of the Hollywood Hills to throw himself into my arms but sadly he likes screaming at people instead of making out with me.
I got my million dollar shot and then we were outta there.
And so we were finished. Done with the sightseeing. Done with the fun. Imagine my horror and shock to realize that driving into LA and out of LA took nearly four hours. My panic face set in.
From there our destination was Santa Monica, where a smug hotel clerk handed me a room key card inquiring “Only one key?”
Let’s just say my hotel room key provided hours of entertainment.
The rest of the trip went smoothly. I rubbed elbows with some hippie folk, crashed Santa Monica Pier and had the best Butter Lettuce salad from the Hungry Cat. Seriously. It was orgasmic. Doves cried.
Oh wait. Did I say “rest of the trip went smoothly”? Strike that from the record. Let me backtrack for one minute. The trip went well until I climbed into a cab that was waiting to take me to the airport. Let me break this down for you. Muslim cab driver (okay, fine), on a time crunch (20 minutes), waxing philosophic about God (ohsweetbabyj).
Yeah. You know my panic face? I’m making that now.
For 15 minutes I sat, white-knuckled and gripping the oh-shit handle as Cabbie weaved and darted through traffic because by god he had to get me to the LA airport in under 20 minutes to go back to Santa Monica to pick up a $120 fare. Apparently I was only worth $35. This did not boost my self esteem.
Then the religion talk kicked on.
His monologue revolved around a man who borrowed his cab once only to never returned it and how vengeance would be exacted one day. This moral was confusingly followed by him telling me that “god” is not found anywhere except your heart. At this I did give him a head nod and mused agreement because who am I to be an asshole, not to mention the fact that I pretty much believe that statement.
When he dropped me off two thoughts went through my mind: As a writer, I was thankful for this experience…as a human being, nothing felt better than my feet touching sweet, sweet concrete.
So this ended my journey to the West Coast. A cab ride founded on faith and a little bit of fear. I will never live in Los Angeles. I like my easy life in Phoenix. But one thing is for certain…
I want to put the ocean in my pocket. Every single day.