The darkness broke with a snap. 7 AM, Pacific. I arose, brain pulsing slightly inside its chamber–whether still lingering from yesterday’s constant ache, or from last evening’s festivities in Hollywood, or some merging form of the two, I don’t know–washed the sleep from my face, brushed my teeth, tossed on shorts and sweater, and sneaked out the slider door into the morning air. I closed my eyes and breathed in for a moment, settling myself amidst the stillness of dawning daylight. Walking around the marina in which my hotel is located I watched eager captains prepping their boats for the day’s venture, a team of rowers striding in tandem through the still harbor, the hills on one side of me, the city on the other. Such silence in this centerpoint, I thought, such stillness between the bedlam of the beacons. And how embracing is stillness.
From the marina I walked up to Highway 1, the long, famed, path along which one can see many worlds. Wrapped still in the calm, soothing emptiness of the morning, I came upon a pristine little shopping center, popped into Starbucks and ordered my normal soy latte. I glanced briefly at both the New York and Los Angeles Times but purchased neither. The divide between the two cities, I thought, is exemplified so precisely by the styles of the two papers.
With my latte and banana, but no paper, I sat at one of the metal tables arranged on the pretty little patio replete with token fountain and obscure statues. There was one other man seated two tables over from me, dressed like a director in black jeans, black polo, sport coat and baseball cap. He was a middle-aged man and he stared off blankly into the distance before him, towards buildings, the highway, shops. I don’t think it mattered much precisely what occupied his direct line of sight.
Before long I did the same. Not buying the newspapers was a conscious decision. But when I reached in my pocket for a pen so that I may write in my notebook, I realized I had not brought either. Each remained, along with one of the books I am currently reading, on the nightstand beside my bed back at the hotel. I had not even the little pad of paper that I often take with me when I can’t bring my notebook. This was not a conscious move. Something with pages and some sort of implement filled with ink or lead come naturally attached to me, like extra appendages. This time, sitting in the cool morning air of Los Angeles, amidst the fountain and boutiques and metal tables and contemplating director, I had nothing. Nothing but myself. So I leaned my head slightly back, closed my eyes, and breathed in deep the calm around me. It will not last long.