As I stand on the edge of my next adventure(s), I can't help but reflect on the places I've been. I wasn't even planning on writing tonight, and then the words came. And they did not stop for a long, long time:
The elevator was out, so I climbed twelve flights of dark stairs with a not-entirely-healed leg today, bare feet padding on the cement floor, sunglasses on my head, wearing nothing but my bathing suit. By the fourth floor, I was seriously reconsidering my decision. Thinking about making my climb of shame back down to our floor, giving everyone the "you were right" look and collapsing on the couch. It was tempting. I knew there was food. Good music. Good company.
And yet I continued. It was a solitary journey to a solitary destination, and I needed it. In a month it would all be gone, anyway, and I would wonder why I hadn't taken advantage of this luxury, this little slice of paradise. So I took a break, smiled at a woman with two arms full of groceries who nodded at me briefly before continuing her own journey. Took a deep breath and continued up.
There was an aching in my leg, and I could feel the tender areas that my physical therapist prodded and poked at the end of every session, a kind smile on his LA-tanned face, his LA-slicked hair shining in the artificial light. I poked at these spots myself, narrowing my eyes and telling myself, "Suck it up, you old fart. Your dead grandfather could climb faster than you." And that's probably true.
Eventually, I made it. And as soon as I pushed open the door and saw the early evening light flood the stairwell, felt the slight breeze dance through my hair, I knew that my journey had been worth it. Stepping into the light, I shielded my eyes and looked down at the world before me.
No matter how many times I saw it, the lightness of Los Angeles never failed to amaze me. It wasn't just the rose-tinted sunlight that filtered through the smog in brilliant rays, or the light desert dust that seemed to settle on everything, but it was in the buildings, the plants, the people. Everyone and everything was an array of light tans and sandy colors, a beautiful, breathing palette of earth tones.
Walking past the pool, past the lounge chairs, and past the hot tub, I put my hands on the warm metal of the railing that lined the building rooftop and admired the horizon. The city had not lost its magic. It still took my breath away. Mountains, desert, ocean. Everything within an hour's drive. Everything and all of these people. All of these people.
In the past year, I had not stayed in one place long enough to get bored. To become accustomed to any landscape. In a way, it was exhausting. Constantly packing and planning and moving. Always leaving.
But every time I left one place, I arrived somewhere else. And in that transaction, in that give-and-take, I always seemed to gain more than I lost.
My horizon was always changing, and it was as exhilarating as it was scary. A constant reminder that I, standing on this rooftop in an old swimsuit that had clung to my body in so many different waters from so many different lands, was so small. So small that, realistically, none of my actions really mattered or were really of any great consequence. That, as long as I was kind to the people around me, and tried my best to smile at strangers, I was doing just fine.
Yes, I was leaving. I was leaving this town in a month, these people and this job -- this comfort. But right now, in this moment, I was here. I was standing on this rooftop, my skin warm in the Southern California sun, and I was happy.
I held up my phone, which I had been clutching in my hand, pointed at the world below me, and I took a picture. This city, this moment, this feeling. It was magic. Someday I would get tired, and I would settle down. Pick a horizon that I liked more than the others and make a home for myself. I would get old, and my bones would creak under the weight of my memories. Someday, my past would be longer and vaster than my future, and then I would pull this out, this small and dusty picture, and look at it with my tired eyes and smile.
Because this picture would remind me that once, I had been young and fearless. Once, I had climbed twelve flights of stairs on an injured leg just to be a part of the world as the sun set on the horizon. Once, just once, I had lived. I had lived, and I had learned, and I had met so many people and seen so many things.
And wasn't that just the most amazing thing?
And wasn't that just the most amazing thing?