Looking out of the cracked window to my right, I catch a glimpse of my past. It's an odd and unexpected whiff of reflection, entering my car just as easily as the brisk nighttime air. It catches me off-guard, and paralyzes my mind for the rest of the hour long trip home. I take the long way, lost in the moment of what once was.
Neon skies illuminate the dissipated streets, symbolism for the deserted dreams of many I knew and many more I didn't. Glitter-filled gutters that reek of ignorance and courage. They once were full with ambition, now they're empty.
It wasn't so long ago that this quarter-smile stretch of pavement would have taken me well over an hour to navigate, swamped with people of all sorts. Cliques separated on Sunset Blvd, curiosity compelled them too. Los Angeles in indeed a melting pot, but Sunset was the ladle. Everyone was there, whether their newfound insecurities admit it or not. We came because of the past, torrid stories of debauchery and excess. We inhaled, drank, and laughed our way from street port to street port, hellbent on defining our own scene.
We didn't know it then, but our scene was the undefined. After the internet, before the smartphones, and right when Reality TV was starting to surge. And though we vamped for attention, we did it with sustained ego. The joke was on us, we went the wrong way.
Dublins is gone. Miyagis too. Red Rock. The Key Club. Even the ones that stand seem on life support as I bring my car to a slower pace, genuinely surprised at the lack of action in the street. It's 1AM. A few hooded bystanders shuffle about, and it dawns on me that they're not the drunken revelers they used to be, probably just locals in need of air. Even the Saddle Ranch screams out with hollow interaction. It was a sweaty, disease-infested sugary wood shack to be sure, but everyone had been there, and now no one was.
Trends come and go, and hot hipper locations move quickly- that's nothing new. But Sunset Boulevard had remained a perennial favorite of all ages and types, especially the ones fresh off the Greyhound bus. The alcohol-fueled monorail of bars atop bars on Sunset was a tradition, one that we all grew out of. I just didn't expect the next generation to abandon it.
But here it was, like it had been many times before.
Desperate to survive. In need of attention. Striving for identity.
I turned left on Crescent Heights. Nothing in the rearview mirror but memories...