Yesterday I made some friends from UCLA, both characters, both great people that embody the Calofornia cool attitude. We rode bikes along the beach to Venice and went to a place called Sunny Blue to eat sushi balls. The whole bike ride I felt invigorating but somewhat melancholy. I was enjoying myself but a part of me felt distant.
The ride reminded me of the endless car rides near where my parents live in Virginia. There are entire stretches of Interstate 64 W towards Richmond that are the same trees, the same road, the same endless feeling of contentment when you sing along to whatever 90’s soft rock hit plays on the radio. And all I remember thinking as a child was, “I can’t wait to be out of a place like this. A place where all that exists is tree, tree, tree.”
Now I live in a place where there’s an equal feeling of complacency. And when you’re biking south towards another beach town, you see the same person, person, person with slightly different toned sunglasses. And with every passing Palm tree, Palm tree, Palm tree, the sun bleaches the sand a little whiter and your memories a little fainter until they fade like old bumper stickers. The same sun bites your skin until it’s a little more red to make you realize what happens when you take too much of something good.
I can people watch in Venice near the skate bowls, and talk about ideas with people who are just trying to understand, like I am, why other people behave the way they do. It won’t be much different from New York City and sitting in the fountain at Washington Square Park.
One summer when I took classes at Yale, the head of the music department came into my writing class to speak. I remember him saying that what is special about music, what sets it apart, is that music is ephemeral. But I think that what is special about every individual, what sets them apart, is that their life, like yours, like mine, and everything they do, is ephemeral.