Don’t read this if you are from California, or live there, or have lived there for a period of time longer than what in other places we call a “season.” This one’s for seasonal-affective disordered people, like me.
I’m writing to you from a computer in the lobby of the Ace Hotel, Palm Springs. To my knowledge I am the only person who has used it. Why would you be at a computer when you could be at a pool? A week ago, I’d have had an answer for this, but now I do not.
I came here at the persistence of my boyfriend, who is from the West Coast, although if you ask your waiter at the pool, he’ll tell you Vancouver is not the West Coast. Even though he, himself, is from Boston.
That’s because, when I think about it, the West Coast is like sunshine all the time and it’s never sunny in Vancouver.
Reason I didn’t want to come to California, on my own, you know, for a pretty long time (first 20-odd yrs of life) is because, primarily, I thought it was fake. When you live in the Great White-Ass North you kind of think of all tans as fake, and all white teeth as fake, and, when you work in media, all smiles as fake. So I wasn’t really wrong so much as I didn’t know.
Everybody basically says California is a dream, but a lot of other peoples’ dreams are my nightmare, like, I don’t know, fame.
Everybody’s right, though. I’ve been walking around whispering “I’m just a girl from Deep River, Ontario” like this whole time. I mean it’s just so bright. It’s so happy. I can’t believe the sun. It is nuclear in that brightness, that heat. It turns Carmex to cherry lava and sunscreen to jizz, pooling in my bellybutton.
And the mountains, the mountains that look made not by God, but by CGI, seem to get closer all the time, and you think, it’s the end of the world, and that’s fine.
People come from all over California to hang out here, at this permanent spring break for wistful adults. They all have tattoos. The tanned ones have stars and spread eagles and one girl had a tableaux of surfers, in silhouette, on her right love handle. And the pale ones, they must be from San Fran, or Brooklyn, have stars and skulls and meaningful things in typewriter font.
I’m somewhere in between, pale and a quick tanner, but my tattoos aren’t like, tattoos, they’re just things I wrote on myself once and now can’t wash off.
I am literally thinking about writing Palm Springs, California on my other ankle.
I am so relaxed I can drink beer.
Everybody should come to California once, because if you come once you’ll probably come every year, after winter has left you for dead and you weren’t even sure you believed in the sun anymore.
Everybody should know that a place exists where, for once, it is harder to be sad than to not be sad.
Of course the happiness, because you did nothing to earn it, because in fact you can’t do anything except lie there and take it, and because it comes in the form of iced drinks and well-programmed guitar songs and chemical sunscreen sniff on chlorine skin, the happiness is artificial. But then, is there any other kind.