When things get overwhelming, I'll drive my car to a specific place in the foothills of Arcadia, park in front of a house -- any house, get out and walk around. It's a weird place to unwind. There are rows of mansions and it's deathly quiet... sans the sound of a leaf blower in the distance. A few cars will pass by but all in all, I feel like I'm in a ghost town, surrounded by nothing but my thoughts.
This is a sacred site to me. It's where, as a teenager, I first fell in love, where dreams were sputtered out hastily and promises in the form of pinky locks were made. It used to be our place. We'd point to the houses we wanted to live in and weave together elaborate lives. Our laughter and silly antics would light up the streets; no one ever bothered us, except, well, time. It was our route, our secret playground, where our imaginations freely roamed the pristine lawns of those grand, silent homes. We were only visited once, when, a beautiful stray gray husky noticed us and wouldn't go away. He eventually followed us back home. I took it as a sign.
And then, as with most first loves, promises were mishandled and our hearts were both shattered into ugly, deformed fragments of glass. Our little route became a crime scene and a deserted site of bitterness and pain.
But time is a wonderful thing and when the dust had settled, years later, I found myself back at our sacred site out of curiosity. How would I feel, if, I came back here?
The tumultuous feelings are long gone.
It's peaceful and hauntingly beautiful all at the same time.
Those shards of glass are still there. But instead of crying over them, as I once did, trying to piece them back together, I simply leave them put. Once deemed mutilated and repulsive, they're now glistening mosaics to me, aligned in perfect entropy. They're reminders of how deeply I can feel and how great and far-reaching imagination can be.
Today, our little sacred route has now become my own personal hiding place. It's where I reflect on the past and give thanks for the present. It's where I come up with ideas and go to recharge when I'm short on creativity. The memories are but an afterthought and I spend most of my time weaving my own stories on those lawns. How if, I were the owner, I'd knock down all those tall gates, security cameras, and thick hedges and throw parties with pink lemonade, bubbles, and miniature cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. During full moons, I'd transform that lawn to a campground and we'd all sleep in little tents around a campfire. The crackling of the fire, the gentle breeze of a Los Angeles evening.
We'd gather 'round the dancing flames and roast chocolate bars and fat, pillowy marshmallows. Jokes would be exchanged, then ghost stories, and then our voices would get quieter, and lower, until everyone fell asleep.
And right before the flames would go out, if I let myself, I'd see our ghosts.
Dancing in the corner, holding hands, tightly. Laughing, pointing to each house and telling each other stories of how life would be if, well, reality didn't so fervently want to disagree.