I see why every artist talks about love almost exclusively. It consumes you: the intensity, the confusion of it. Perhaps we think everything is about love when it’s not; perhaps it’s all about ourselves and our inability to be happy.
There’s something about it, though. When you are in that moment, constrained by the knot in our belly that impedes you to fully breathe or fully eat or fully think, you are powered by a special kind of force; i’m talking about that moment when you know it would be useless to try to focus on anything else—so you jump into the car, and drive.
Everybody has a road for those occasions. You are not sure where you’re going, but you always end up in the same place. And the more you drive, the more you become aware of the strange beauty of the situation, of the dramatic power of what you’re doing. It’s the beauty of feeling deeply. Of being fully alive.
For me, the road is PCH. It is a famous road, special for many people. It is special for me because of how I felt the first time I took it, from the back seat on an Uber on my second day in Los Angeles. I wanted to see the highway that follows the Pacific, jammed with traffic; I wanted to see the models in convertibles and the tourists in white jeeps and the guys in black corvettes trying desperately to drive fast; I wanted to see the houses on the beach and the old surfers and the fancy cocktail bars. I wanted to see the sun setting behind the mountains.
I saw it all. And what I mean is that I saw it all exactly as I imagined it. Few pleasures can compare, for a romantic mind like mine, to that: to love an idea, and to be able to live it.
So when I feel that internal itchiness that makes it impossible to be anywhere but somewhere special, I take the one—from Santa Monica, direction North.
All I find there reminds me of the sweet naivete of the world. That mix between nice and ugly, the charming decadence; the rich teenagers, the funky things; the families so perfect under the sun, like out of a magazine; the outliers; the surfers resting on the flat silver ocean in the afternoon sun; the new-rich showoffs; the new-age memorabilia. It’s a famous road, and I know many people are driving it the same way I’m doing it: music on, windows down, alone. I know they, like me, like it because of the symbolic power of the road. Because of what it means to us.
There’s objective beauty in the place, too. The beaches, the light. The mansions far into the hills. The flowers that in spring fill those hills with colors. The vans from the sixties. Los Angeles in the foggy background.
But that’s not why we are here, all the people driving alone with the music on and the windows down. We are here because we still believe in the movies of our childhood. Because we still believe in the meaning of certain things. We have that silliness in common, all of us, and while driving this road, it doesn’t feel as silly, after all.
So, when the disappointment of the real-world hits, we come here. Where we can still dream of golden sunsets.