Corrupted youth in California Pt. I

I was going to start a new blog specifically detailing my travels to the USA and Canada on another format and still might but I thought I would just get the ball rolling and smash out a few words now and then come back to you when I get another chance.

It’s a hard one to know where to start. Flight to LA, bus to Venice Beach followed by a few cloudy nights and onto San Francisco and so on and so forth. We all know what happens when people go overseas to youth hostels accompanied by their best mate. They are looking for cheap thrills, cheap drinks and a lot of memorable stories. Part of me is unsure if I actually fit the mold that so many seem to ease into when they are travelling on a budget. I consider myself low maintenance but then again I am certainly not the most independent lad… (insert implication that I am a Mumma’s boy here) and I am pretty comfortable doing my own thing rather than chucking myself into situations that could potentially fall out of my control such as the prolonged drinking sessions and camping trips to the middle of nowhere. However, I have seen the light and I am illuminated… come on Will, you are better than that. There are the ways you accelerate relationships with people you will probably never see again. The temporary nature of these relationships is extremely exciting and extremely addictive.

Sure, some of them I will stay in ‘contact’ with. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc but the gulf of water that lies between us will probably prevent another catch up minus if they are in my hometown and I am in theirs. Such is the way of the backpacker, people’s strengths and weaknesses are amplified. You may become smitten with a girl who smiles at you from her top bunk and you may come to be repulsed by an individual who leaves their phone alarm on as they head out for breakfast.

California is a state of many faces. Los Angeles, where everyone screams to be heard but screaming too loud will get you nowhere. San Francisco, the blissful, pretentious seaside town. Santa Cruz, where everything just seems to stroll by without a batted eyelid and finally San Diego, something of an unknown quantity to me. Then there is Nevada. Las Vegas. The amoral centre of the world. Where you can do anything if you know the language. And that language is most certainly the thing we most associate with it as an outsider looking in. Money, money, money. Although I did find myself in awe of the whole enormity of the place, I was just as willing to shake my head at the sheer rambunctious, obnoxious and chaotic state of it all. This is a place for a weekend, a couple of days, a party and a time to go before you head off to the suburbs. Living there too long would steal your soul away.

I’ve met a whole range of people along the way only three weeks into my trip. Desperate artists scrounging the streets selling their act in Venice Beach including a man who kept screaming at anyone who dared walk away from him as he was coming up to the climax of his act. ‘HEY! DON’T WALK AWAY WITHOUT GIVING SOME MONEY!’ Stoned British blokes who just seemed to come and go with little more than an ‘alright mate, have a good one’ and pretty Norwegian girls who could wink at you once and you’d be at their every whim. If you don’t look hard enough you will not find the person you really need to see. So it seems you’ve just got to keep looking in all the right places. Even then you might just be talking to some down and out veteran who has just had enough. But maybe he’s the guy you really need to listen to… just not quite at the exact moment you’ve latched onto the scent of a couple of pretty Californian girls… and golly, are there a lot of them.

My initial bouts of homesickness mainly came down to the aftermath of a night that hurtled out of control. It’s no secret that I have issues with my nervous system (anxiety for the unaware) and placing myself in the line of fire time and time again is certainly not good for the soul. Nonetheless this is the place of excess. It is all thrown in your face. The adverts, the food, the alcohol, the drugs and the supple nipple of the biggest gambling conglomerate in the world. I’m a staunch independent when it comes to who should own what. I know what reality I live in but I don’t condone it. The dominance of chains in this country is beyond even my wildest imaginations. The United States was a pie ready to be cut into pieces but most of it has been left to those who didn’t hesitate in grabbing a huge slice and keeping it in their fridge to be protected by a small army. I miss my Melbourne cafes, that’s for sure.

However, as I rapidly approach the biggest moment in my life – Coachella music festival – I must add that I really enjoy being just another traveller hungry for a burger, a new experience and a new conversation. From my chat with the young writer out of New York City to the embrace of a pre-school teacher who found my accent to be ‘fucking sexy’ in Santa Cruz, California has lived up to my expectations. It’s a unique place, occasionally swallowed up by its own hype but it is a place where I left many great mysteries uncovered and although I am not sure I can handle punching through the hectic buzz of LA to get to those secrets or getting to the bottom of the magnet that seems to draw people into the ridiculousness of Las Vegas, I am hooked on San Diego, mesmerized by San Francisco and perhaps even pretty darn drawn to Santa Cruz. But there is only one me and so many places to go.

Reflecting on the ridiculousness of the past three weeks is hard to do in a couple of paragraphs that seem to twist and turn depending on what memories burst into my mainframe but I can’t help but reminisce on the night in Santa Cruz where a lovely British woman labelled my friend ‘a ruggedly handsome man’ before transforming into a deranged monster who couldn’t stop screaming insults at him. I think it was when she discovered that he had extremely soft hands. Or the night where a beautiful woman approached us in a Las Vegas nightclub. Thinking I’d struck the jackpot I immediately chucked a couple of Australian witticisms into the conversation. She laughed, I smiled, she winked and it was love. Then she asked where I was staying. ‘Circus Circus’. Why would I let her know that I was staying in the dingiest hotel in Las Vegas I wonder? Well, I’m an honest man. She couldn’t have walked away faster. I think that sums up Vegas. Everything is so tantalisingly close and deliciously possible and yet it can all walk away from you at the snap of a finger.

However, St Lucia and Young the Giant at the Cosmopolitan was a really special gig. Two acts rising fast at a venue that took my breath away. The 14 dollar beers weren’t exactly a positive though. Perhaps last night whereupon a group of us tried four different camping spots where we received four contradicting reasons for not being able to stay the night and proceeded to end up on a beach in front of a bonfire with absolutely no edible food being cooked. But hey, we had a lot of beer and a lot of chats about sex, drugs and blood moons to cheer us up.

I have far too much to say and too many people to talk about but I think it would be boring for everyone except myself and maybe my family. Don’t worry Mum, I haven’t been doing too much of the naughty stuff, don’t worry your precious heart about me. I don’t think she will read this anyway. One of the important things I am starting to reflect on while I am here is that I cannot have everyone and everyone will not like me, sleep with me, want me for what I am. I am just another face with a story to tell. I thought that would kind of scare me but really this temporary life of quick acquaintances, quick food, quick love and long winding roads is pretty okay with me.

Anyway, I will proofread this later. Photos and cooler stuff up in the next one. Time to get back in the car and back on the bike. Next stop, Outkast.



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