Hover / by laurel

This morning we hurtled past crumbling concrete freeways—stately, but always one earthquake away from utter destruction, much like many midlife crisis-ed adults I’d witnessed in the past few months. They—freeways and adults—clung to the shreds of their former grandeur like a crow clutching the remains of a hamburger wrapper, flapping far above the transient concrete grid of Los Angeles proper. And Los Angeles, like its freeways and adults, has reached her midlife and now stands one earthquake away from a meltdown.

And there we were, choosing to exit those neurotic byways in favor of the Pasadena neighborhood en route to the 110, a route deliciously contoured by the shadows of a million edible trees. The blue velvet shadows cloaked the decaying sidewalks, midnight blue eye shadow on a half-lidded hung-over, has-been. Houses swayed decadently in the early morning breeze, beckoning the drooping palms with their curb appeal. A siren call for the Starbucks-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away set.

Oftentimes I find myself losing the subject of a description in the description itself. Adjectives surround nouns and are swallowed by verbs, and around and round we go until an entire paragraph proclaims much but explains little.

To put it simply, we drove through Pasadena en route to the 110 South. But again, I was lost, mind over matter, beside myself, watching those houses and palm trees and edible shadows dissolve, their atoms reassigning themselves into new beings—literary beings, shapes described by adverb and adjective instead of shape and color. I wanted to eat it all, devour every last shadow, and hold it inside of myself like a quarter cast to the bottom of a pond. I wanted those palm trees to grow inside of me, stretching me thin and brittle. I wanted to feel the perfect morning air surging inside of myself, flowing within and without, replacing white blood cells and bone marrow. I wanted the silence outside and the whir of passing cars and the faint radio inside and the voice of my friend talking about gangs and respect and tagging—I wanted it to be inside my head—be in my head in place of my brain. In place of my brain, I wanted silence and whir, faint and gangs; frothy and bubbly inside my skull. I wanted it to grow within me, a thriving, ancient metropolis, en route to the 110 South.

Los Angeles is great that way; it really makes you want something. When you’re letting that warm, golden mess seep into your pores, you find yourself really wanting. Los Angeles really wants to figure herself out, but can’t. She is suffering the forever identity crisis. It makes you want to take the whole thing in, let it inhabit you for awhile, and figure out that identity crisis. You just can’t put your finger on it, but you find yourself desiring answers—not for yourself, but for that grand, sunbaked, wrinkled city constantly shrouded in the smoke of its own smog cigarette.

Sometimes you just want all the air in the world to be inside of you so you can blow that smoke from her face and say, “Get a grip, Los Angeles. The graffiti’s not so bad.”

To which she’d cough, and with a wan smile, reply, “True, but all that sun’ll kill you.”