Oct 26, 2009 | Malibu, CA
Oct 26, 2009

Day three in Los(t) Angeles, still squinting at the too bright light, and still feeling, like the city itself, too scattered, too manicured, too perfect, too flawed, too impossible, too something. I see the well-primped young girls from far away, hoping to land a role. I see the well-preserved middle-aged women, hoping to land a man. I see the well-dressed suntanned men in collared shirts, sitting at streetside cafes like little Napoleons, smoking cigars and clutching their phones, hoping to make a deal. I see the dreamers, trying to get their dreams into someone else's screenplay. I see the normal people wearing baseball hats and sunglasses, trying to look more like celebrities, and the celebrities dressed the same way, trying to look more like normal people. If only everyone could learn to look more like themselves.

Valet-parked Priuses roll past storefronts that look like movie sets, selling things you can't seem to use real money to buy, but fake paper notes printed up for some historical period piece on 2009, in which we're all cast as unknowing extras, even though we never signed a contract except secretly wanting to be A Part Of It All. This particular movie will probably go straight to video, but the viewership will be enormous.

I went for a walk this morning and saw a man in his plaid pajamas standing in his doorway and surveying his tiny perfect lawn, with its straight edges and box corners, as a sprinkler slowly spun, humming all the time like me. I felt like I had escaped to the 1950s, but I knew it was impossible to escape that far. We can run through space, but not quite yet through time.

Soft smiles made of hard plastic flashed under steady sunshine, the nice hot air warmed my bare arms, and I wondered how something so apparently easy could still seem so incredibly hard.

Luckily there was Malibu (and Kyla to take me there), whose sands and sounds and waves and birds were nothing but perfect, and built back the soul the city had so rudely stolen just hours and lifetimes before.