It’s been around four years since I last walked around Venice Beach, California. I was on vacation that trip. I did a lot of exploring on my own, earbuds in, ipod turned up. I wore my chuck taylor’s with skirts and smoked an occasional cigarette. I drank gin and realized I actually liked it. I was finishing up graduate school. maybe I had one more year left. I forget. All I know is that it wasn’t time to figure my life out quite yet. Not like now.
Now I drink mostly whiskey, though I still like gin. My occasional cigarette is fewer and far between. I’m back in Venice Beach, but I didn’t bring my chuck’s with me. I haven’t put my earbuds in since my plane landed. I still haven’t finished up graduate school, but it’s time to figure my life out. I could really use a whiskey, but I’d take gin if that’s what you’ve got.
This trip is not a vacation. It’s full of sunsets and friends. Drinks and laughs. But everyday starts and ends with the same two questions: “who am I and what do I want to do now.” I fill each day exploring for the answers. I toss and turn each night I don’t find them.
I had this brief moment on the Venice Beach boardwalk – as I passed by Harry Perry, still rolling around playing his bullseye guitar – where I just really missed that person I was when I took in Venice for the first time. I think it’s mostly that I miss that time in my life when I wasn’t trying to figure out what my career goals were – or if I even have any.
So, as an ode to my former self, I decided to repost my first take on Venice Beach from years ago, stolen from my old LiveJournal account:
“Walking down Venice Beach listening to your ipod is like walking through a music video. As if every person you pass is scripted to be there in costumes designed by industry pros to look like what we think Venice Beach should look like. You pass this guy, bronzed, lanky, dreadlocked holding a sign “best henna tattoos –>” and pointing to the kiosk in rhythm with your music. Boys in wetsuits undone and hanging at their waist skateboard by carrying their surfboards passing the beach shower where the grey-haired man rinses off his board. Next to blanket after blanket of local art, cheap jewelry and tarot cards, a man drums on his djembe to the beat of your song. Everything is in time. If you stop, pause…say, for a cigarette, Harry Perry will roll over to you on cue with his wheeled tennis shoes, his white robes and turban a mixture between an Arab and a Hare Krishna. He’ll play you his song on his worn out bull’s-eye guitar, amp hooked to his belt. If you don’t see him there, if he doesn’t play for you, you can see him on a mural or on t-shirts on people walking by. Production merchandise. Keep walking. Press play again on your ipod. Walk by muscle beach. Engines pumping and thumping in time. Skaters crash onto the cement after a failed ollie kickflip stunt as if Meg White willed it so. Families, tourists, joggers, strollers, dogs, skaters, surfers, rappers, fortune tellers. The grey bearded wizard mumbling incantations, the limbless black man belly flat on his skateboard rolling by. You. All part of this Venice beach menagerie set to music.”