Saturday, 23 June 2007

Buying a lull in the crossfire with your last dollar

I was floating around Los Angeles for two and a half months. It was the first time I had been unemployed in over 12 years. Officially it was a long holiday, long vacation, more than just a career gap; a change of life, total, absolute. I needed it. London had run it's course. Good years, easy years, party years, but it was time to move on. I threw the dice and lit the fuse on my life there. I was headed to Australia on a sponsored resident visa thanks to my brother. On the face of it, it was a dream ticket anyone would be jealous of. I was just happy to be getting out of the rain.

So I sold up everything I owned, which wasnt that much, I had already gone some way to emptying my life out after my 7 year relationship had gone down the tubes a couple of years before. The money from the house I had put away, it was all I had, anything before that I had put up my nose. London had been an 18 year party only some of which I could remember. That was the 90's for you. I bought a ticket to LA and went to stay with my mum and her boyfriend in a flat in Century City that overlooked the Fox Studios. My family were scattered round the world, we had always been adventurers.

I did the whole tour thing, even spent a week or so clubbing, but then thought better of it when I realised the budget was getting hammered. I cycled up the West Coast some 180 miles camping as I went, it was solitary but a worthwhile experience all the same. Then I was back to LA, and in coming back I realised I had fallen in love with the place. I had found an actress too. But she had a life, and I was just passing through, and though we fell in well together it was kind of hard to see it going very far. Sure, it felt like love but then what could I do. I was strapped into a ride I knew only a fool would get off of before it finished.

Los Angeles had been good to me. You could holiday in a place for maybe a month but after that you are starting to become part of the furniture. After that month a part of you begins to try to lay roots, it is beyond your control, it is nature working from inside of you and it actually makes things kind of difficult. You get a little confused. And that is when a place can start to beat you up a bit. A place like LA is tough. Tougher than I had expected, crazier too, but I still loved it maybe because I recognised myself in her.

I guess if I was a bit better with strangers I would have made a bundle of new friends out there and had a multitude of things to do. As it was I generally dont like too many people, they rub me up wrong or vice versa, so it takes me usually about a year in a place to really find a pal or two I can hang with and feel relaxed around. It isnt a bother. I am a private person anyway, I write, I do my thing, I dont generally suffer loneliness too hard, I can always find something to do, to throw myself into. But those last weeks in LA brought up some things I had forgotten;

Times when I first left college and was unemployed living in the back room of a house in Oxford spending my days alone writing music, dreaming of the day I would be an internationally famous rock star with a pool, a studio and a load of busty models helping me pass the time with a good cocaine habit. I made it to LA at least, but that was as far as the dream went.

So, I sat days out on the balcony in those last few weeks in LA and let the hollow feeling in my chest work on me some. I hadnt felt it in all those years. When the reality of being unemployed, hungry, lonely, and growing aware that the dream has turned into a dirty dead-end with nothing but rats and garbage to keep you company. I was clearly more of a bum than a rock star. In the end something saved me; A woman. They always came to my rescue with their beauty, and light, and love. She got me on my feet, got me eating right, got me back feeling some sense of pride, because that hollow feeling sucks it right out of you. It kills your self worth dead, and when you hit that bottom you are in no fit state to get a job; life is too terrifying, you are bound for the mad house or hell. I got lucky. A woman saved me. 3 years later I was earning a living, enjoying it even, having money was new to me. I had to sacrifice the dream of rock stardom of course, but I guess you sell your soul to the devil, or to a corporation in life. Either road you dont get to keep it.

I puff on a cigarette and watch squirrels bounce along the wall that bounds the movie studios. Over the other side I can just make out Nicole Kidman's prefab. She isnt in it. I check daily when I hang out there to smoke. Over that wall it seems to me are the 'haves', those who make it. Over that wall is where dreams get built into set designs and eventually into movies. Over that wall people's dreams become reality for cash. Stardom exists over that wall. Over there it is real.
I puff on my smoke, and watch it billow up to tuck under the patio above me and disappear into the breeze that flows gently down this back alley. The eucalyptus trees shimmer in the afternoon sun, I feel pretty good because I know I can still make it. 2 months out here showed me I still got something that can pull things out of the world, pull them together and make a life. Still, a shame to be leaving that actress, she was good for me. I hear a crow caw and look up into the trees. See a plane going by over head, hear drills building sets in the Fox yard someplace. I feel the hollow ache inside my chest and focus on it a while. It makes me sigh, long and deep. Makes me feel scared but I am able to control it, it doesnt overwhelm me. I dont know what the future holds. I am on a dream ticket and I keep reminding myself of that. I still got money left, I am not on skid row today, nor tomorrow. I still have some time to hold out from those dirty jobs that rob you of time, and energy, and life. Still holding out a while to think here, to smoke, to let the dreams inflate inside me and hold out against that hollowness, that fear.

I look over that wall, seems to me they are all pretty busy over there turning dreams into reality. It sounds like hard work. I think about climbing over it to join them, grab a spanner, or a fax, and make like I am really busy doing something, going somewhere. But I figure I will just sit here, smoke and enjoy the Los Angeles sun a while longer. The squirrels watch me and I smile. I think we understand each other.

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