In Los Angeles for a couple of days, helping my mom out. May have a few hours to myself later this evening, and find myself wondering what to do. So many stories from my past have settled here in LA, like near-forgotten keepsakes tucked into that bottom drawer, then pushed a bit farther back each time more are added. And then, when you pull open the drawer to look for that folding picture frame from Aunt Melanie, you’re stunned at the Alladin-like trove of forgotten treasures before you, and lose yourself in them all, not knowing which one to pick up first.
For me, LA is that bottom drawer. Which of my many friends, which of my old haunts to call upon? There’s Ken, of course – my college roommate, now settled with wife Patti and two kids. I don’t even remember how we met; as far as I can tell, we were suddenly in a frat-basement garage band together, interviewing some quiet, mild-mannered freshman named Andy McKenna as a lead guitarist. He had a crazy-colored Hamer guitar and said he mostly played Sex Pistols and Dead Kennedys – yeah, right. But when he fired the amp up and cut into the first riff, we knew we had our man. Hell, we wanted to be in *his* band.
So Ken and I careened through the craziness of college together as bandmates and sometime roommates. I introduced him to one (maybe more?) of his college girlfriends. And the summer of 1984, when we were roommates in LA for a summer job together at FutureNet, he introduced me to Devon. Okay, not so much “introduced” me – she was his date for a concert we went to together (Sarah Vaughn and the LA Combo, July 4th at the Hollywood Bowl, in case you cared); and has no recollection of me from that summer.
But that summer tucked so many memories away in that bottom drawer of my psyche – FutureNet, Tommyburgers, Century City, Venice Beach, and the winding roads of Topanga Canyon on an autumn afternoon. All now shining baubles in front of me – Which do I pull from the drawer and revisit in my mind? Or, of course, there’s Ken himself, now living in Thousand Oaks and working as lead technologist for an orthodontics company – who could’ve guessed? I could give him a call, and see if he’s available for a beer, if Patti – bless that wonderful woman – doesn’t mind fielding the kids for a few more hours.
Or the Santa Monica Pier itself. Sure, we’ve brought the kids here, visiting my mom, but those earlier memories… McKenna and me sitting in the sand with a pair of guitars, working out the harmonies on “Two of Us”, half lost in the melody, and half hoping that some beautiful women would stop to listen.
And through grad school, driving down I-5 from Seattle, with Devon in tow, to introduce “that new girl” to my parents. We’d tent-camped somewhere in northern California the on the way, and the fact that D was willing to meet them, unshowered or washed from two days on the road pretty much sealed it. The old apartment on Bentley – even now I could walk it with my eyes closed.
Okay, there’ll be more time to muse later – now it’s time to get some work done.