I have a lot of mixed feelings about Los Angeles. It’s the land of starlets and sparkle, but also a melting pot of tacky tans and a pressure in the air that never seems to lift. I had visited LA a lot when I was younger, but nothing about the place had really stuck with me. In recent years, all I had heard about LA was the horrendous traffic, the smog, the celebrities; I had never really thought twice about visiting. But my two friends and I decided to road trip it down to this mythical place to visit our other friend. I was excited for several reasons. On a larger, more abstract level, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of fame and fortune recently, and so what better place to go then Los Angeles and Hollywood, to either knock it out of me or to inspire me. But bringing it back down to earth, I was just excited to go on a road trip with my friends. I had this idea of driving down a beautiful, coastal highway, top down, sunglasses on, blasting music and smiling with my friends. The original plan was a flight for family fun…But pause: this is how it really went.

My friend had been subletting a room and long story short: the house was being foreclosed so she had to move out in the span of two hours and then drive up to us. My part of the story is that I had been planning on driving the full twelve hours round-trip, but my license was expired, so I had diligently ordered a renewal online, and according to the online services, it had been mailed out July 16. Nope. I still don’t know where it is. I’m also a control-freak, so none of this made me very happy. My other friend just goes through a lot of shit in general, so he deserved a break this time around. I don’t mean to say that the road trip wasn’t great. It just didn’t quite have the cleanest start. We still got to play our designated two hours of music. All was well.

Once we got to Los Angeles, we PTFO (passed the fuck out), and from then on, it was non-stop go go go time under the warmer than warm California sun. We went from UMAMI Burger in West Hollywood to a Hello Kitty store in Melrose Place, to the Sprinkles Ice Cream shop in Beverly Hills, The Getty Museum also known as Heaven on Earth, along the Sunset strip from the Thai restaurant Night+Market to the Laugh Factory, and finally back to Brentwood, only when it was time to sleep. The next day was just as busy. We woke up to go biking along the beach from Santa Monica to Venice Beach, and ended our trip with a meal at Chosun Galbee in Koreatown.

I’m not really going to talk about the food (for once! Don’t worry though- the pictures following this post are all the LA eats from this weekend!). Instead, I’m going to be my usual ADD and tangential self and say that this was the best weekend of the summer for me. The weather was beautiful and everything about it was perfect (although one of the bikes we rented got stolen, but that’s another story for another time). The Getty Museum, which everybody should visit at some point in their lives, is one of the most beautiful places in California. It is a luminous wonderland. The building is sculpted by light stone and glass surfaces, but none of it is harsh or overwhelming, the way stone can often be. The gardens are also as calculated and decorative as Versailles, but with a serenity that is as carefully delicate and ethereal as the architecture. Most museums boast the artwork and masterpieces they harbor, but The Getty is a masterpiece in itself.

And The Laugh Factory was a piece of work. A set of some of the funniest people I had ever witnessed took the stage and gave me and my friends a night of natural botox. I don’t think I had ever laughed so intensely for that duration, in my life. But the whole while that I was watching, I had a strangely sentimental strain of thought working its way around my mind. All of these comedians were making jokes about everything from race, to sexuality, to youth and age. The fact that I was able to relate to all of these jokes and references made me realize that I have aged. Not in the obnoxious way (obnoxious at least to those older than myself) that twenty-somethings such as myself worry about getting old complain, but in a way that I had become acutely aware of the temporality of this summer (which may be obnoxious in its own right, up to you).

This has been an exceptional summer, a summer where I’ve learned more about myself, good and bad, than any other summer. A summer where I’ve become aware of just how much of a control-freak I am, just how much I love and care about my friends, just how many irreconcilable and frustratingly internal issues I have with my family, how much I love drinking and being without the concrete inhibitions I usually have up, about how much I fear the future enough that I have to plan a meal weeks ahead, about how much I crave attention and love, about how jealous I can be, how mercurial I can be, how afraid I can be. But what I’m fearing most is something so abstract and fleeting, that I’ve been having these odd, odd urges to hug my friends and jump on them and climb into bed with them, when I hate bodily contact more than anything.

So as my friends and I made our way back from LA to SF on the car ride home, we started talking about what our favorite moments this summer had been. I had named this weekend as one of them, and to take it one Russian Matryoshka doll layer deeper, being at the Getty Museum, and the bike back from Venice Beach to Santa Monica, talking with my friend, who was biking right next to me, about the future and ourselves and whether Los Angeles was the place for us or where the place for us is, and so on, with my two other friends following close behind. Retrospectively, the scene is so surreal. We were biking along the coastline, with perfect weather and kites painting the sky. It had been the perfect weekend.

It’s not that I don’t want this to end—it’s not that cliché—I just don’t know. I don’t really get it. And now I’m sitting at work, unable to do anything physically or mentally or figuratively about the summer’s end. All I have to look forward to is meeting up with those same two friends for a delicious dinner. Eating good food with good people since ‘92 🙂