I click high beams on and off around blind curves to warn other cars: I am coming, and I am coming fast.
I’m going to present you with an incomplete ride right now. There’s a good reason. Here it is is:
That’s winter in downtown Los Angeles, three hours ago. Truly. But that’s neither here nor there, because just now, driving in Hollywood, there was a veritable deluge. That means snow in the mountains. A lot of it. You know how I feel about snow. And that means the decision to chase what I love took no more than three minutes of deliberation. Hello wet roads, hello iffy drivers, hello red-eye road-trip. Love makes you a fucking warrior. I just didn’t know I’d kill myself over something so pretty as a snowflake. But I do it each time.
So you receive my incomplete post, the one that has seared and writhed in me for days. And this is how it begins…
It’s a couple of hours after midnight. I drive Mulholland. It’s the same haunting road snaking above Los Angeles and down to the ocean that I started driving fifteen years ago when I first moved to California. I took the spins when I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to drive for the sake of driving, blast music and shriek along to it. There is always a scream coming from me. It’s mostly soundless, a stealth scream, an incognito shriek. To you, I seem calm. Sometimes the shriek is uncontainable and joyful, because the girl it comes from has eyes glistening with life, and being alive, even now, keeps her breathless like a child at a carnival. There has never been rest inside, and this I realize, has never been bad.
I leave my friends, drive off from parties and outings, and don’t feel quite ready to go home. I take myself, now that I finally have me to myself, on a ride, and I’m giddy about it. This is how I deal with my late night angst, I used to say. I take hairpin curves as fast as I can without succumbing to the slow-motion plunge I see in fantasy, over that faraway city invaded by night and lit like jewel-encrusted fabric. All commerce and real estate is immobilized by a benevolent black. It’s a shimmering dragon hide, asleep, beguiling and incapable of harm or corporate ruthlessness.
It’s the canyons that keep me in California. I coast around turns without using the brakes, and the longer I resist braking, the more accomplished I feel. A solitary crop of high-rises reaches to the sky like glittery fingers. The view shimmers through bends and gaps, and sometimes brings tears to my eyes. I catch my breath because beauty is a feeling and not a vision. I’ve flown lower in Cessnas over the city than I am above it on Mulholland.
Fifteen years ago, I didn’t have my own car. I was new to Los Angeles and had just acquired my driver’s license. I took out rental cars on a monthly basis, not because I had to drive to a job, or even to too many auditions. But because I’d had driving dreams since I was a small child, and finally having my license meant the ability to converge reality with nighttime dreams.
I would drive Sunset beyond its rock ’n roll strip to where it turns green and curvy. Sometimes I’d find another car, a fancy one with an owner determined to be the fastest on the road, and I would race them all the way to Pacific Coast Highway. There I would head north towards Malibu. On one side of me, cliffs and untamed brush would roll by, and on the other, silvery ocean. Ahead there would be a gradation of hill, cloud and light layers. I would go as far as El Matador beach, with its craggy boulders and dolphins frolicking in the distance. Sometimes I would hike up a canyon path off Leo Carillo, trailing to ocean views from a dazzling height. At the end of the day, I’d time my drive home with the setting sun through Topanga Canyon, all the way to Mulholland for the last stretch back to Hollywood. Each time, this odyssey was – is – something out of my dreamscape.
I do Mulholland for Mulholland’s sake. If I bring someone, it’s because they matter to me and I know instinctively that they’ll be in my life for a long time, even if I’ve just met them.
There’s much more to my romance with Mulholland. But right now, I’m swooped up by my romance with snow. And strangely, each has to do with journey and destination.
I sat with that unfinished portion of the Mulholland for ten days. I’ve had a block. This has made me irritable and scattered in thought, downright unhappy, because I take Gunmetal Geisha seriously. Each post is the equivalent of months of therapy. The words decide for themselves where they want to go. They carry me, as opposed me carrying them, to unforeseen destinations. Arriving is the equivalent of leaving a dark, stuffy room to find myself in open air where breathing is luscious.
In the past week I’ve gone on getaways and mini road-trips, to dinner parties, wine lounges and new semester classes taught by passionate teachers. But through all of it, I haven’t really left that dark little room lacking in oxygen. The post I’ve needed to get out has been trapped along with my inner conflict:
I strip myself down to my essence in writing – my instinct carves whatever path it chooses, and what I end up saying, even if painstakingly crafted, is without exception, undiluted and uncensored. But now I find myself in a position where another person is immediately involved. So I grapple between honoring their privacy versus my desperate urge for expression, which I can’t see as anything other than a dragon – again – but an angry, awake, baby dragon thrashing inside me.
Everywhere I go, everything I do, I’ve had an overflow of sentences crowding my mind, sentences I haven’t written, because I’m paralyzed with the idea of having to measure them out since there is someone else involved.
This measuring out thing – I’m not capable of it. There is no point posting anything at all if it can’t be what it yearns, if it can’t be its authentic self. If I’m a vessel out of which these things must pour, by denying their natural path, I’m trapping in myself a sort of toxic rage.
I am a writer. I do a half-assed version of all sorts of things – languages, music, academics, even snowboarding. But writing is the one thing that doesn’t make me cringe at my own lack of skill and ability. As someone who wants to make films, I’m just a beginner, a student. As an actress, I’m inconsistent. Even as someone obsessed with snowboarding, my love far exceeds my skill. But Gunmetal Geisha, born of my need for expression, gives me more peace and satisfaction than anything else has in years.
That scream? It goes away for a time when I complete a piece of writing. It becomes harnessed into a string of words, and the words wield power and in them there are solutions. When I have words, I need nothing else. I’m untouched by the outside world, unruffled by pesky human problems. I become so content while writing that it takes effort to go about normal life. Who wants to deal with traffic and checkout lines when you could sit quietly and create exactly the world you want?
This site uses up a huge amount of time, often completely taking over my life – because I am appalling when it comes to time management. I don’t have a heart-stopping number of readers, nor does the blog do anything to further my career or bring me financial gain. Yet it’s an irresistible force and I’m at its mercy.
And why wouldn’t I be?
It is one among very few things that give me temporary peace, because I am a person who needs to take turns at high speeds in the middle of the night just so I can calm the fuck down and go home.
As far as the rest of the conflict, here’s the short of it. Not long ago, I wrote a post about online dating, and very soon after, I shut down my online dating profile. But not before meeting someone. I’m not sure how we ended up in an actual relationship within days, but that’s what happened and the wild child inside me has been screaming protest ever since.
The man is perfect, as far as I can tell, and this perfection is worthy of its own future entry. I am however, freaking out to find myself in a relationship, because freaking out is what I do at the beginning of every relationship. Usually at the start, I go through my dozen attempts to break it off. I also immediately confess, display, even play up my character flaws in order to scare off guys – this time around, it was advertising that I’m unemployed, unpunctual, dangerously restless, and in fact, in constant need of asserting my “freedom,” whatever that actually means.
As everyone knows, guys scare off easily enough on their own, so my semi-subconscious I’m-a-nut-job act, along with the let’s-see-how-much-you-could-take test is time honored. Those who stick around through my acting-out phase tend to be keepers. The problem is, do I want a keeper?
See now, interesting: I had no idea that’s where the post wanted to go. He will read this, and others who know me and the situation will read it as well. Aware of such a fact, most every other blogger would prudently backspace (backpedal?) and delete the last paragraph.
So it’s a good thing I’m not prudent. There would be no fun in that. Even though I still have to leave you hanging for now. And go pack for the mountains with the perfect man. (continued)
- The destination is never visible at the beginning of the journey.
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