While reading The Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne one Sunday afternoon, I came across a chapter in which he is in Australia driving in an area with no signs of human life. In the midst of his walking around and exploring the area he comes across an anthill that then triggers an existential episode for him. If I remember correctly, he thought that seeing an army of ants doing their collective good for the sake of the species made him feel ant-like in the grand scheme of thing, then proceeds to brush it off as though he may be over reacting.
Who would have thought that on the same day a similar experience would happen to me. In all honesty I’m not that surprised. The existential episodes have been reoccurring at a more frequent rate. I can seem to go out and ride bikes with friends for most of my day off, then return home and have that good feeling slowly (or sometimes not so slowly) take a dive. Or in this particular case end up at a park I vividly remember from my childhood and be brought to tears for what seemed like no reason at all (at first.)
This is the view that did it for me. I’m at a park in Culver City near Overland and Culver. At first I was in awe at how comfortable this view felt. A lot of pivotal experiences took place here. A lot of what has shaped me into who I am today took place here. On the other side of the grassy stretch was the first pool I passed the underaged swim test on and got to jump off the diving board. I got to fire off a rocket with mama here. And I remember meeting a pen-pal from school on a separate occasion.
After staying here for a little bit, eating my lunch of six bananas before I head on back into Hollywood to meet up with friends then proceed to make my way back home to get ready for work, I come across some parents with their children doing what parents do. That was my trigger. Something about seeing kids after knowing I’ve spent a lot of time here as I am sure they have, and seeing parents enjoying their lives where they currently live as I did and still do got the brain running on all cylinders.
The current year off school I am taking has always made me feel like I’m missing out on something. Like I should be doing something more productive with my life. To strengthen this guilt trip is the scene in which I grew up in. All the happy memories I’ve had as a child soon to be plateaued by my lull in the rat race. Am I throwing this great upbringing away by choosing to not go the traditional route of a prompt and formal education followed by the want to repopulate? Am I gonna be that guy that is never satisfied with the things he has done with the time spent on this planet? The worst thing I could imagine would have to be explaining that to someone some fifteen years from now. “Yeah I grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood. Then when I finished high school things started to dwindle down and here I am (insert slightly above entry level profession.) That stuff gives me nightmares. Nightmares and day terrors.
The other side of the coin has me justifying what I am doing as something I genuinely enjoy. I may feel like a nomad with no place in the world at times, but I can make it work. Maybe what I need is to meet someone and get the dating process rolling again. Am I ready to start dating again? I mean, the idea of having a family is romanticised about from time to time in my head. But then I see my dad’s kids (myself included) and think about all the baggage they’re going to have and reconsider if I want to wish that upon someone else. Hell, isn’t that what a relationship is at a part of it’s core (he laughs in a melancholic way)? Or is it better to just go with this nomad life until the end. I would end up harming less people from it, and I could keep doing what I’m doing all with just having to wrestle with these episodes when they arise.
Seeing youth sparks an internal battle of opinions within me. This on top of the setting of my stomping grounds puts a self-internalizing twist that usually results in a cynical conclusion. Perhaps it’s these settings that trigger the need to keep up with the Jones’. Maybe I need to take my life in a different direction seeing as I am a different person from when I used to live in this part of town. Part of me still enjoys coming back to the place where I grew up. Something about the nostalgia of returning to a hometown (and the possibility of having a great time, or a morbid panic attack) makes the trips worth it. That feeling of familiarity whether it be good or bad that is worth clinging on to.
After this internal discussion, hands still shaky from the coffee, I decide to make my way back home by way of Hollywood and eventually back into the valley (my second home.) Not without another photo of the place where I grew up.
Who knows, maybe this is just a phase in my life. Maybe I’m going through a quarter-life crisis and I’ll only have to deal with this three or four times in my life. Then again I could have just discovered a new about myself I never knew existed. Either way, I’m here for the ride.