(I’ve written many odes and essays, poems and lyrics, and stories about, and within, Los Angeles. This piece started years before, called something different, but with some of the same sentiments and theme. It was time for a revisit, a refresh, and a revision. Another look at me and the city I was born in, and always seem to come back to)
Los Angeles, I’m Yours
Los Angeles as a character, as a love interest, as that unrequited thing that I never quite keep a hold of, as the abusive lover, as the errant mother, as the forgiver of all sins, the desert angel, the city of sin, the bridge between my kind of heaven, and hell.
Los Angeles as my first love, my last love, my true love, my biggest mistake, repeated, re-ran, rinse and run me through again. Los Angeles as regret, as salvation, as part of my goddamn DNA.
Oh, Los Angeles, I’m yours, I’m leaving, I’m coming back, I’m here again.
I think of Trixie and her dream of the South, her lover that the ocean would take, their fantasies of leaving this city lasting longer than they did. Or did Trixie come back? Did she fall for Loring? Not as hard as she did for her “Grace”, but then again, we all only fall that hard once.
But Loring, he was her second best love maybe, in a city that seconded for Los Angeles. Maybe.
Did she learn to hate it as much as LA? Did she come back here, new perspective in the palm of her hand, and say “I’m back, so do your worst.” Or your best? Did her new love, that maybe-second-best-love, see this city differently?
Did she ever end up in the South at all? Or was that all too full of memories, or could-have-been-memories. Can a city be the one that got away?
Los Angeles, she never gets away for long.
Jenny sings about leaving, about returning, about being wrong and cruel, but coming back anyway. The palm trees bow, in reverence? In mockery? In forgiveness? In understanding? Would they leave, too, if they could? Would they ever come back?
I leave so many things only to come right back.
But some I leave, for good. Or, are those things the things, and people, who leave me for good? Do I ever leave anything, for good?
I hold so many memories under my skin. Every kiss, every promise, every lie, and every lover I ever thought was the one, was love, was everything to me. I never completely let them go.
But what is that hold about? Is it the storyteller in me not wanting to lose character and plot points? Is it the nostalgia junkie who can’t stop looking behind her. Tapping the memory vein for one more fix?
Thank god I don’t really believe in a god, at least not the kind who would turn a girl to salt for looking back.
If one of those lovers came back, yes, even the dead one, maybe especially the dead one, would I turn and run? Would I fall back in? Would I let them back in? Are any of them my Los Angeles? Am I any of their city of angels?
I’m itchy now, trigger finger shaking, my hand gripping tight to the steering wheel. It takes all that I am to not keep driving away. I sneer at the street signs, the twilight setting sun, the fucking pink sky, it makes the tears come, fast and hard. I cry for the broken parts of me, for the loss and the stupid dreams that I can’t let go of. I cry for the regrets, for the times I’ve returned, for my lack of being able to ever stay away.
I cry most of all for what I thought this would be.
And I blame you, Los Angeles, I blame you for always bringing me back, for not sending me away, for forgiving me at all.
For instilling in me expectation. The dream of neverending sunny days, of hope, of happy ever after. Why do I ever believe things will last? Doesn’t everyone know that things always wane, turn smoggy and grey, turn away and turn off the lights, the passion, the excitement, the magic?
Why am I the only one to think those things can last forever? Like that Hollywood sign, like the stuck-bowing palm trees, like this goddamn heart of mine.
“Let Me Back In” by Rilo Kiley
from the album, rkives (2013)
Special thanks to Tiffanie DeBartolo and the books God-Shaped Hole (2002) and How To Kill a Rock Star (2005) for the characters mentioned, and for being two of my forever favorite stories, and to Jenny Lewis and Rilo Kiley for a song that felt/feels exactly like me and Los Angeles.