Los Angeles never really struck me as a city.
From afar it was a myth, drawing like a magnet, begging me to shed my small town skin and try a shinier, slicker one. An irresistible invitation for someone with something to prove.
Closer still, the inner workings became clear â€“ endless branches growing in all directions. We were all part of some neurotic tree â€“ greater as the whole but each part ablaze. Striving for what exactly? Fame, money, glory? The light of the sun? I wasnâ€™t quite sure but it always seemed to be something outside the self, just beyond the reach of straining fingers and endless scrambling.
(I didn't yet know that the parts didnâ€™t have to strive so hard, forgetting there was NOTHING but the sun).
And after existing inside this throbbing bosom for so long, something odd happened. I realized that the Lady of Lost Angels had gradually become my lover. Almost even creeping toward a spouse. While other flings came and went, only she held my attention steady. Indeed, she was the closest thing to a â€˜realâ€™ partner Iâ€™d ever known or trusted.
Now I was fully involved in a rather tangled and ever-evolving relationship with 'her'. After all, we were both so aimless, trying so hard to re-invent and impress. Trying to raise an entity born of nothing more than a dreaded fear of the mundane. And often only regurgitating what had been regurgitated, emulating the dreams of others â€“ much like a herd of glorified sheep.
I had to wonder if my lover and I suffered from a certain sort of narcissism, repugnant but rather golden, the oil that kept so many lights glowing.
At first our affair had been rather torrid, everything was so new and bright, endless crevices to explore. Gradually, though, the luster started to dull and we settled into a routine that was exhausting and rather pointless, like rushing faster only to go nowhere sooner.
And just like any normal relationship, the give and take dynamic ruled. I gave: she took. I gave my energy and time, my hopes and dreams. And then every so often, when she feared I might revolt, the pendulum would swing back, and she would replenish my thirst with a wink and a nod â€“ sometimes even a callback or two. This is exactly how we carried on for many years.
Until the fighting escalated, that is. She would erupt in a raging fire, draping the hillsides with the flames of her fury. Sometimes sheâ€™d rumble violently and the fissures between us would widen. There were days on end when she would blow her toxic smoke in my face, and all I could do was sit, stuck, and take it in.
Zigzagging across the swollen expanse of her body, I swore I would leave â€“ must leave, even in the very moment I was coming back for more. More what? More stuck than ever.
Waiting. But waiting for whom? For her to make another move? And what exactly would she do next? Just enough to keep me hooked, just like always. Set up an audition, another meeting that would surely only swirl around a pointless cul de sac of disappointment. Or maybe a threesome with some slick executive or two-bit producer more desperate than those he preyed upon.
And letâ€™s face it, she made us all desperate.
Oh the sacrifices she demanded â€“ security, sanity, stability. All of them were to be tossed in the junk bin outside the entrance to her lair â€“ much like an oversize jar of face lotion on a commercial flight.
Weary of her hours, I finally outgrew her need to socialize - to see and be seen...to gleam. I didnâ€™t want to sit through another of her club scenes or dinner parties. I was finished bearing witness to the incessant flirting - she had so many lovers, too many to count. I knew she needed them - energy for her starving ego - but I had pretended not to know, even though she always knew I knew.
Of course, I was never going to be her favorite but I somehow kept myself in the running: working out at the busy, stinking, over-priced gym; plucking the crazy eyebrows and premature peach fuzz. I had long since given up on the hairstyles â€“ opting to pay the rent instead. I had strived to keep up my end. Yet it was all a charade, and I was simply â€˜frontingâ€™ for the right people that she had deemed so.
But my lover also wore a mask, an elaborate one embedded with sparkle. Oh to outsiders, she exuded nothing but glamour and the promise of even more to come. Nobody needed to see the hidden cost. No one on the outside needed to know where she was falling apart. No soul needed the downer of thick scars or bones jutting at odd angles. The dilapidated places of both body and spirit were never discussed. Instead, only an awkward silence filled our room.
Or sometimes I would just leave, ascending in a plane where I could see her from a different vantage point. She looked so calm and peaceful peeking through the fluffy clouds. She would whisper her goodbye as if she could care less that I was gone. Sometimes, she would even flash her tall white-lettered grin - the one that always hooked me. So I would come back, precisely the way lovers who crave such drama do.
But not this time.
This time I need to take some space, and define myself outside the powerful reach of her boundaries. This time I need to define myself for me and not for her. And Iâ€™ve finally found the courage to do so.
She was a mirror I held up for far too long, and my reflection never satisfied either of us. There were too many other images to compare, and she was a merciless collector. Our home had always filled with other peopleâ€™s images, which always seemed to get younger and better looking as time passed. My time.
I'm taking my own picture off her wall, the one that she had hung so teasingly in laundromats and greasy spoons.
And Iâ€™m also done with other peoplesâ€™ images. I'm finally ready to discover my own authentic self, the one behind the mask. The one not concerned with validation or reinforcement or kudos of any kind. Just internal peace, the sort that comes from the acceptance of whatever is in front of you in whatever moment you may find yourself in.
Of course, I will miss her and the wild circus affair that was our life together.
Iâ€™m hoping that she and I will meet again one day, and that maybe Iâ€™ll have something new to offer her. Something she could use herself, something that might even help her heal.
The sun will still be shining, as though nothing more than a big budget prop. And sheâ€™ll pour me some vegetable juice, or whip up a frothy latte and weâ€™ll laugh together at our old insanity, just exactly the way old friends do.
That is the dream, a more simple version â€“ a real happy ending.
WORLD - CITY LIVING
Copyright © 2010 Kay C
The Lady of Lost Angels and me.
Copyright © 2010 Kay C
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