Los Angeles, Day One

I’m in LA for a week. I’m going to try to write something about my trip every day. I hope you enjoy it.

This is my first vacation in six years, and the first time since 2002 I’ve travelled entirely on my own. True, I am meeting friends here, but the arrangements, the cash to get here — it’s all been me. Part of me wonders why I’m doing this, and why I am here. Part of my inspiration for traveling here is gone. There are still things that I am looking forward to, but I don’t think the bittersweet feelings I have at the moment are going anywhere.

There was a part of me that didn’t want to go on this trip. A part of me that wanted to just stay home and lay in bed all day. My friend Jay drove me to the airport, and told me that sort of thing was normal. Maybe it is. I don’t travel much, and although when I first thought of coming here I had some sort of agenda, things have changed. Still, I paid for the trip, and arrangements to meet old friends have been made. I wouldn’t have backed out.

I don’t think I like flying. Hours after getting off the plane, my ears are still hurting a little. It’s possible I ruptured an ear drum. If I yawn it hurts, and my hearing is kind of muted. I like flying in theory, and the view from the window is majestic. I like watching the world slowly move under me, tiny and abstract. I didn’t get to sit next to a window on this flight, though. Instead, an incredibly skinny guy who may or may not have been a heroin addict curled up in the window seat and slept most of the trip. When he wasn’t sleeping, he was doing that weird scratch-thing that you stereotypically think of a crackhead doing, and jamming his face into the half-closed window.

On the other side of me — yes, I was in the coveted economy middle seat — a very big dude practically spilled out of his chair. It made me consider the possibility of airlines selling seats by passenger size more seriously. I would have been plenty comfortable in my seat if this guy wasn’t so large that he had no choice but to invade my personal space for four hours. He wasn’t rude or anything. In fact, I think he was kind of a bumbling nerd. He almost dropped his coffee several times, and he was watching La Femme Nikita and Doctor Who on his laptop for the majority of the flight.

I feel a little bad for judging both my seatmates. It’s human nature, I know, but still sad. I could have drummed up a conversation with either of them, but all three of us came prepared with ways to keep ourselves busy during the flight, so maybe it was for the best that I didn't.

I stood in line at the LAX Hertz for about an hour. The place was packed, with a line that ran around the building. I would have grabbed something to eat before heading to the hotel, but I was so anxious to take a break and write that I skipped the meal and had some crackers I’d stuffed in my carry-on instead. The guy at the counter told me I was getting a Yaris and gave me a Sentra. Not a bad car, but lacking in Bluetooth. I think all cars should come with Bluetooth these days. The drive was pleasant, though I missed my turn several times before finally finding my way to the hotel.

The entrance was neither labelled nor obvious and sits between two highway on-ramps. I flashed to that scene from Clueless where the kids accidentally get on the expressway and freak out, but it honestly wasn’t that bad. Of course, it was also around 2:30 pm, so probably not the heaviest of traffic.

My hotel room is… well, it’s a mixed bag. I can see why this place has so many negative reviews on Yelp. It’s not falling apart or anything, but the furniture has been damaged by humidity, and the inside of the drawers are warped and gross. It’s about as Spartan as these things get. It has an LCD TV, but it’s fed analog cable, which I find hilarious. I didn’t come here for the television, of course, and my Plex server at home is ready to stream whatever I want anyway. It’s mostly a non-issue. There’s also a very sad vending room on my floor, with a single machine that dispenses 12-ounce cans of soda for a dollar.

There is an awkward empty space in the corner of my room that probably held a reading chair at some point. A lamp sits in the corner, five feet from the second bed, looking lonely. The WiFi here isn’t bad, but I am not trying to tax it. My room is right outside the pool. Maybe there will be eye candy. I feel kind of gross saying that, but whatever. Newsflash: single straight guy likes pretty girls. More as it develops.

The palm trees in Los Angeles are kind of awesome. Some have grown to massive proportions, towering so high over everything else that they almost seem like beacons in the sky. There is a relatively tall one just outside my window; gently swaying in the breeze. It’s hypnotic. I’m actually kind of mad at myself for being so excited by palm trees. It’s so stereotypically tourist. I’m not here to see movie stars or the walk of fame.

So: Los Angeles, Day One: a place with possibilities that I’ll explore with my feet firmly planted on the ground.

The view from my window of my hotel room. Yes, it’s dirty.

Posted on May 15, 2014 and filed under Travel.