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In the beginning…

December 8, 2009

Five hours before I left Melbourne I arrived in Los Angeles. After a short flight from Melbourne I arrived in Sydney where I killed time by being searched for explosives and eating Chinese food. I was seated in between a couple from Indiana returning home after visiting their daughter who was on exchange. Offering to swap seats so they could sit next to each other, I was told not to worry. Chalk that up to the success of marriage…

13 hours later I arrived back in time only to be faced with an interrogation from customs, which went something like this: “What do you do back home?” “I’m a student.” “And how long are you planning on staying?” “Three months. I’m flying home in February.” “Uh huh…and as a student how can you afford this?” “I work as well.” “How much money do you have?” “$3,000 in an account here, but I have another $5,000 in an account back home.” There is a long exhale. He types something into the computer while glancing at me from time to time. I do various finger prints and have my retinas scanned or whatever that camera thing does. Finally I receive my passport and thank him. He looks blankly at me. Obviously he is not used to being thanked.

I met Rusty at the exit, which was surprisingly low key given it’s LAX. The airport looks like it is perpetually undergoing renovations. With Rusty was her friend Amy who she’d met in Hollywood and was headed to the same hostel as us. We headed for the bus and shortly afterwards arrived at the terminal where we wandered the bays and waited for the 109 to Hermosa Beach. After a smoke and a packet of chips, the exceedingly large bus driver allowed us on and we were off.

40 minutes later we were in Hermosa Beach. We walked along Pier Avenue, where the air was alive with the smell of grill and Hawaiian music coming from a street show. The place was packed with people, sound and smells, it lived and breathed with the thronging masses. Up a staircase we found the reception to our hostel, manned by a guy who was either perpetually stoned or not quite right. I took a shower before Amy, Rusty and I headed out into the sweet electric air. We ate dinner at a Mexican joint not far from the hostel and set off to find liquor. A couple of blocks later we arrived at a supermarket and picked up a bottle of vodka and some Sunny D for the princely sum of $12. We then headed for the beach and set up shop on a lifeguard post (just like the ones in The OC!).

Drinking commenced with earnest as we drank to America and the promised adventures it seemed to hold. A short time later, five guys from Martha’s Vineyard arrived and joined us on the post with a communual bottle of bourbon and coke which they constantly passed around amongst themselves. There was Shaun (spelling unknown) who pursued Amy with an eagerness verging on desperation, the guy I convinced to travel to Melbourne, the guy on the far left with a high-pitched laugh that rang around his cigarette in between self-deprecating stories about his love life and tugs at the brim of his hat. While the others left for their destination, a house party “a couple blocks away”, Shaun of the unknown spelling remained behind, determined to get Amy’s number. Eventually succeeding, he promised to cook her brocolli (she’s vegetarian) before heading off after the others.

Our solitude was soon disturbed again, this time by a trio of two American boys and a French girl who occupied herself with one of them in the corner while the other asked us the Great Questions of who we were, where we were from, where we were going and so on. The rest of the night passed in an alcohol-fueled blur with our intoxication leading Amy and I to a friendliness not common between strangers who have only met for 8 hours. Discussions ensued on cup sizes (the good kind) and hand-held demonstrations. At some point Rusty descends to the beach and does cartwheels, losing her phone in the process. Amy rushes to help her and faceplants into the sand. I stand on the rail and drunkenly watch the scene below wondering what I’m doing. Rusty locates her phone and wanders the beach while Amy and I watch from the lifeguard post.

Later the constabulary arrives in a car and with a flashlight informs us the beach is now closed.  Somewhat bemused at the sight of a patrol car on the sand, we descend to the cold damp sand, find Rusty and walk back to the hostel. We all go back to our room which is empty aside from our scattered bags. I go and brush my teeth and return to find my bed occupied. With some manoeuvering I board the bunk and uncertainty begins. I fall asleep for a couple of hours before I wake up and the uncertain dance begins again. Finally Amy leaves to let me sleep. Jetlag kicks in and I lie awake waiting for dawn and fall asleep when it comes.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Carterus permalink
    December 8, 2009 2:49 pm

    Love it! I wish I was there, but in any case I feel like I am. Great work. I want more.

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