I didn’t take many photographs during my travels this fall. Only really one afternoon from my hotel room in Concord when I was sick with the flu during one of the brightest autumn days I’d experienced in years. And then a few days later, in Washington DC, when my hotel room had the most perfect corner writing desk I’d ever seen–an old sewing machine base with a flat wooden top, and a large, breezy window just to the right, looking down over the stoops and foot traffic of R Street.
Hotel life in Washington DC and Concord, Massachusetts // October 2014
From an early morning back in October in a hotel room three floors up in the middle of Baltimore. The sun woke me up before my alarm, pouring itself slantways across the room. A week of wearing the same plaid shirt, of train trips from Boston to DC to Baltimore and then finally up to NYC, those crowded train cars and my propped up suitcase my only perch until late at night when the crowds emptied and I found a back corner seat to curl up and write.
I fell in love with Baltimore during the few days I spent there. I fell in love with the kids I met during the day, actors and singers and filmmakers and musicians. I loved their humor and their personality, the guy who tripped over his words with excitement, the shy girl with the red lips and the sneaky smile. I fell in love with the cafe that sat catty-corner from my hotel. I stopped in every night that week for dinner at the bar and they kept my wine filled and didn’t bother me while I made my way slowly through Anne Truitt’s books. I loved the streets and the cloudy sun and the way I slept there and the messy dirty beauty of that whole place.
Los Angeles and New York never seem quite so far apart as when you’re losing a friend from one to the other. In a week, Kestrel and her love leave for New York and already I’m mourning the loss.
Barely a week ago, we sat in a bar off of Times Square, her up from Philly and me on break between rehearsals, in the city for a few chaotic days. And then today, like magic, we’re together in LA again, sharing a quick glass of wine in a hotel on Figueroa. I’ve gotten used to this kind of back and forth in myself and my friends. It seems impossible to build an artistic life on just one coast these days, so we’re all a little bit nomadic, building up our dual homes in uneven, exhausting, exhilarating ways.
Still… I’m sad to see her go. My muse again and again (and again!). Always up for a little exploration, a little mischief. One more drink, one more roll of film, that cigarette we swear we’re done with for good. Sneaking in, sneaking out, borrowing dresses, trading coats. I have a full, wholehearted love for the person, the artist, the expert drink-maker, the impeccable dresser, the over-the-top laugher–for all the lovely selves she encompasses.
May that big, bad city keep you safe and warm, my dear.
I’m writing now from the mountains just outside of Santa Fe. This fall was… what can I say? Numerous. Adventurous? It was more hotel rooms than I can track and a strange, late blooming fear of flying. This fall was Boston, Concord, and DC. Boston again. It was Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Las Vegas. It was a single suitcase and a single roll of film throughout all those miles. Suitcase, yellow. Film, black and white.
Strange things happened amidst all that travel. For awhile I stopped taking photographs. I read a lot of plays. Wonderful, unexpected opportunities came my way and I kept thinking, how, my own creativity felt so buried underneath all the work of traveling and life. Leaving my home exacerbated its newness and strangeness and the unfamiliarity of sharing it was another person. It seemed a few months of living from the road might uproot me altogether. But…
I began bringing presents back from my travels. Apples from an orchard in Concord, plucked one morning in the rain as I drove with a raging cold back towards Boston. Fall leaves, bright orange, pressed safely between the pages of my journal. Mexican jumping beans from a Five & Dime in San Antonio where I stopped to buy sleep medication. Each time I came back to LA it was sweeter, warmer, hazier, lovelier than any place I’d just been. I fell in love with a few unexpected places this fall (Baltimore, you filthy, gorgeous thing) but I also fell in love with home. And by home, I don’t just mean Los Angeles, I mean home. The entire concept of home and my specific, particular little slice of it.
A few years ago when my friend and I traveled to Spain we were both, in our own ways, knocking at the door of some personal transformation. Wrestling with it. We were searching for symbolism in everything, magic in everything, and we left a piece of ourselves on the top of a mountain in Montserrat, beckoning. I left a small journal I’d been keeping, hopes that were weighing me down, dreams I knew no other way to discard. She left behind an old paperback and some photographs, half-buried beneath a sloping bush and surely now long gone. Washed up and dried up and repurposed into earth. It was some modern day, twenty-something witchcraft. And the funny thing is? It worked. It absolutely, undeniably worked.
Tomorrow I drive back through the desert towards home and I’ve been thinking of what I might leave behind. If I had a snakeskin, my own, that would be it. Or a lock of hair. A physical, cellular piece of myself, I’d bury it out in this desert earth. Because I feel myself wrestling with a transformation that’s bigger than I can size up, like a wave coming crashing through my veins. So I’m calling together all my magic, all my forces, all my dirt and sweat and mysticism. I want to see how far this wave might take me. What shore I’ll wash up on next, lighter, older, stranger.
Weeks of oppressive, desert heat finally broke this morning. I felt it coming last night, walking through the hum of downtown, the air cool and thin. I think it’s safe to say that fall has finally descended.
I’ve been reading nearly a play a day lately, unearthing voices and worlds I’d never really taken the time to discover. Suddenly, time is of the essence. There’s an urgency in my bones. My blood feels constantly on fire.
It occurred to me the other day, mid-performance, and seemingly out of the blue, that LA might not be my home forever. A new horizon line rolled in, unwillingly, uninvited, but I’ve been captivated by its presence. It’s easy to forget that we’re never a fixed point but always moving through, moving towards something unknown, moving away from something else.
Suddenly, I’m not sure will be much more to say here, this space that began as my love letter to Los Angeles and the unexpected time I called it home. I’m not sure yet what comes after Los Angeles… but I feel it coming up fast.