The last time I saw Josh, he was living in a part of Cleveland where the abandoned four-bedroom house across the street was available for $17,000. I was in transit between Chicago and Pittsburgh on a month-long journey driving around America—this was August or September of 2017—and dropping by to see him like this had become something of a habit.

We’ve known each other for something like fifteen years after meeting via various punk rock message boards during their heyday of the mid-aughts. He and I have crossed paths on any number of occasions since; we’ve probably hung out in person a total of ten times across six different cities (Cleveland, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Austin and, now, LA).

These occasions were usually due to at least one of us having some sort of mental breakdown and escaping to somewhere far away where there was still a sense of familiarity, and it’s how we ended up walking around Hollywood and Vine on a Saturday night, aimlessly dodging between the absolute scenery that is the kitschy thrills of stereotypical Los Angeles.

Josh moved here to permanently escape the Rust Belt, and I stumbled here just looking to temporarily escape the grip of reality. And when you want to escape reality, there are few places better to go than Hollywood.

“So, what crisis that brought you down here? You just kind of said, I bought a ticket and will be in LA tomorrow.”

I laughed and explained things and the conversation ebbed and flowed between our individual trajectories over the past few years. The neighborhoods of LA and the warm Saturday night just seemed to exist around us, passing by like the credits of a movie.

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Escapism in Los Angeles

For whatever reason, I’ve never been fond of being constantly updated on people’s lives. It’s why I have no patience for or interest in Facebook. I genuinely care about what happens to people, but I just don’t relate to the everyday details of life. There are rarely good stories to tell in small timetables of recollection, and eventually communication itself becomes unmemorable. It never really made much sense to me, to force a bond like that.

But over the course of a day and a half, many miles walked and scores of artworks seen, Josh and I had accounted for the past few years, told the big stories, related to the changes in life indirectly and still made time for our continued discourse about art, culture and politics in America. There’s something sublime about catching up with friends while sharing intensely existential experiences; it just seems so much more natural and progressive—in terms of a human relationship—than a constant stream of metadata and status updates on a screen.

After Burmese food in Silver Lake, we returned to his apartment so I could grab my bag, off to the next thing as I do. Until next time, thanks for everything, briefly speculate on what circumstances that future state could possibly hold, laugh, leave. Until next time.