The City of Angels and Demons

The Encounter at LAX, is always interesting to stare at, at 3 AM (EST) wondering if you've landed on Mars.

It's been a while since I've flown domestic. Domestic travel is far different than any international flight. It's quick (4 hours to L.A.), cramped, and typically the destination isn't much different from the one you departed from. America is homogenized, it's safe. The same restaurants, there is always a Wal-Mart, and while some of us do lack in the linguistics department, we all speak the same language (something I don't prefer). I don't travel domestically because I want to, but  because I have to. This last weekend, over fall break, we flew back to Los Angeles (Ventura) to see my mother-in-law who is stricken with leukemia.

Our US-AIR flights from Fayetteville to Los Angeles wasn't too bad, but I miss the international amenities.

We went back because we knew it was the right thing to do, but it wasn't easy (nor cheap). Our "family" has many of the problems that many families do. Things have been said and done in the past that left us ostracized and exiled, and for seven years we hadn't been back. Of course we didn't expect things had changed much when we made the commitment to fly back, and we weren't disappointed. The weekend was filled with both good and bad, or both angels and demons if you will. Without going into details, the experience made me realize a few things:

  1. Despite anyone's intentions, when you're around people that make you feel bad, miserable, or sad; why do you (or I) put ourselves in these positions? I'm finished feeling crappy about myself, because others either enjoy it, or simply can't bring themselves to actually loving you.
  2. Family, real family doesn't necessarily include blood or marriage relationships. Any bonds that you think you have to endure because of self-induced values is down-right silly if it affects your life negatively. I've made family from strangers in foreign countries, but feel like a immigrant at my in-laws.
  3. There is no bargain, no deal to be made. Even if no one verbalizes it, it was clear hollow-cordiality that was the trade for our future relationships, rather than raw, true, respect and change. No deal for me.
The Mission of Ventura

That said, it was nice to see people (sort of), eat a Tommy's Burger and get a little sun. However, unlike last December when I flew back from living in Belgium, and was sad, I was euphorically happy to be heading back to North Carolina after my stint in California. The City of Angels is one with one-too-many cars (and not enough public transport) and a few too many bad memories for me. I wish it wasn't that way, but I think what I've learned from all this is that people are as much a part of the places you go than the actual geography.

Near China Alley, an old supermarket, now restaurant in Ventura.

While I love my in-family, I think we're all healthier people if we stay on opposite sides of the continent. For me it was a bit too much like a Jew going to dinner with Hitler, or a Haiti earthquake victim riding the Earthquake ride at Universal Studios. Somethings change and somethings don't, and L.A. (Ventura) was as if time stood still. As if walking through the death machine factory which you rationally knew no longer worked, but that continued to strike fear into your heart merely by its existence.

So what now? Well, I fly to Dallas in January, and then, who knows? It's tough to say goodbye to Los Angles because it's such a wonderful place, but there are thousands of cities out there, and who knows... one day we might find a home and family that loves us without all the blood-shed and bad seat-pitch.


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