Secret Pop

Jan 27, 2002

"This is the first time I haven't tried to win your love. Only now is love possible."

I went to see Jim in Mass Appeal today. What a good thing that was. The play itself was great. And I was so proud of Jim's performance. I wished I had been more adamant about getting Dad to come with me. I really think it would have meant something to him.

For some reason, my emotions are far too near the surface for my own good these days. As I embraced Jim after the play, I caught my eyes welling up with tears. And for what? Yes, I was moved. Yes, he was wonderful. Yes, he is a dear, dear friend who has seen me through a great deal. But I wouldn't have been able to pinpoint why I made the hug last a little longer than usual and felt my throat tightening with a mixture of feelings, amongst which were love and gratitude and certain admiration. It's not that I object to feeling things. It's just that I worry for being so out of control. If only for decorum's sake, I'd like to be able to keep from crying at the drop of a hat. It has the potential to invoke feelings of shame and discomfort. And who needs that.

My drive home was a melancholy hearkening back to the old days of the drive when I had first moved, three months ago. Do I say "only" three months ago? Or do I imply that they have been a long and carefully-noted three months? It was raining for most of the drive. And I talked with friends for a bit. Listened to Ira Glass for a bit. Looked at the rain and listened to the sound of my windshield wipers for a bit. I felt lost today.

And then I had a breathtaking moment of déjà vu.

In early 1993, I left work, went home to my apartment in the pretentiously named Cardiff by the Sea, and then began a journey up to Los Angeles to rendezvous with my old college friend Mitchell who was staying at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, attending an event to honor Julia Child. He invited me to come up and meet him for dinner, and I happily agreed. It was a Monday night, and it was raining a nasty sort of business. This was before the days of MapQuest and all the other kindnesses of the Internet, so I took my directions down on a little piece of paper and hit the road. I remember -- as was often the case for me and still is today -- feeling that I had driven too far long before I had come anywhere near my destination. I remember being tempted to turn around and go back when I was only in Long Beach or something like that. Fearing I had missed a junction or an exit. It's chronic with me. But I plowed on through the rain. And I ended up arriving safely and not too late into the night. And Mitchell and I went to dinner at Chinois on Main and had so many delicious things and wonderful conversation. It was entirely worth it, despite the late hour of my return and the trying prospect of another day at work the next morning. Today, I can barely get my friends to come visit me when they've got week-long stretches of time free. No one ever thinks of just popping up for a dinner or a concert. That's precisely the sort of adventure I was always game for. And still am.

So, tonight, as I was approaching Marina del Rey, and it was raining, I felt as if I was in the exact same lane of the freeway at precisely the same moment in time, now nine years past. I remember looking around and noticing how wide the freeway looked and what the landscape and the commerce were like from that spot's vantage point. Tonight, I was transported back to that moment for a spell. And I recognized the differences in now and then when juxtaposed. How foreign it all seemed to me back then. How far it was and how alien. Tonight, it's just part of the scenery on my frequent drive home from a visit with my family and comedy performances and shopping and time with friends. It is no longer daunting nor mystical. It tells me I am close to home. And despite the rain and the floundering sensation I feel, it is a welcome reassurance to know that I will soon be cozying up in the heat of a fire. That I will be able to put my things away and begin my evening, whatever that evening may hold. Sometimes I catch myself dreading coming home. I scold myself for that. I like to be here in my place. I like the way it smells. I like where my things are. And I like the spirity echoes of the friends who have been here with me. They paint the place.