Our last day in L.A. was mentally long, but fairly short in comparison to the previous four. We rose early to pack, which was somewhat of a herculean task in itself. All of our little treasures managed to just fit into our bags, and then we hopped into a car. Breakfast was on the fringes of Chinatown at Nick’s Cafe, across from the new Los Angeles State Historic Park. I picked at my eggs — Nick’s fresh salsa was delicious, but my stomach was unsettled. I was anxious about leaving.
We walked up Spring Street, past the warehouses marked in Chinese and English, across the LA River. Cars slowed while passing us, seemingly unsure if pedestrians were even allowed on the bit of sidewalk — surely a rare sight. We stood at the top of the Spring Street Bridge and slowly turned around, taking in the view — the city poked through the haze in the distance, and the LA River trickled inaudibly below. We laughed at ourselves — these crazy people walking streets that only suggested pedestrianism, but didn’t actually mean for it to occur.
Up to North Avenue 19, up Humboldt to St. Vincent de Paul. It was smaller than I remember for some reason, and not really the best last memory for the trip. We trudged the aisles, halfway looking. Thrifting is one of our favorite things to do, but we always have to be in a certain mindset. If you’re not mentally prepared for it, thrifting can be draining and depressing — and this jaunt felt forced, instead of a spontaneous decision as it usually is.
Then across the street to Goodwill — it was there, we were already thrifting, why not? We happened upon a Whiting & Davis metal mesh purse — one of Amber’s favorite things to collect. The “Made in China” tag made it a possible knock-off and we left empty-handed, the 80s metallic relic still on the hook as we wandered into the parking lot.
Caught a car home, finished packing, caught a car to LAX.
I look for patterns in life, and when I travel — things that happen repeatedly over the course of a day, statements I overhear again and again, textures that pop up across my journeys. One of the curious mysteries of this trip to L.A. was the music. In every single car we rode in, we heard musical soundtracks — and more specifically, it was often “The Sound of Music.” It began to be almost eerie, and we knew it was truly time to head home while in the car on the way to LAX — no musicals, at all.
Checked our bags, security, waited in line for burgers at Shake Shack, ate, found seats, waited and waited. Our flight was delayed by an hour-and-a-half, along with many others. The tension hung in the air. A flight to New York was eclipsed by our flight to Denver, and the passengers were shuffled to other gates, all of them grumbling under their breath. The tension remained on the flight — the flight attendants were snippy and pointed, the other passengers huffed with anger, the pilot’s voice was strained and tired.
We landed, and splurged on a car home rather than bother with the train. As we rode into Denver, my feet throbbed.
We walked thirty-four miles across Los Angeles in five days. We walked the “unwalkable” city, in order to become reacquainted with it. We walked to see the city as it wasn’t meant to be seen, by foot rather than by car. We walked so that I could reprogram my memory, to write over the painful past with new, happy moments in time. Mark held my hand as we wandered through Silver Lake, Downtown, West Hollywood, Melrose… and now, his laugh and his voice are what I’ll remember alongside the streets and landmarks of my old life. I don’t have words to explain how thankful I am.
I have thirty-four miles of love to remember now. Thirty-four miles of conversations, thirty-four miles of stories, thirty-four miles of contemplation and discussion. Thirty-four miles of dumb jokes, coffee stop requests, breathless window shopping. Thirty-four miles with Mark.
I’ll add those miles to the thousands more we’ve walked together already — and remember our footsteps and our laughter the next time we’re walking the streets of Los Angeles.