Well, this is a bit odd. But only a bit.
I’m writing this from my old office in the house I lived in in glorious Ventura, CA from late 2000 until early 2005. This is day four of my first return visit to the Golden State since I moved to the District two years ago. I saw my ex, with whom I remain on friendly terms, for the first time in two years last night — she made dinner — and we’ll be hanging out together with some mutual friends this evening and tomorrow.
I shared a Studio City apartment with two really cool people with whom I’ve lost touch for about five sad months in mid-2005, but for most of my California experience, I lived in this town, in this house. Ventura is so beautiful it’s a little bit heartbreaking to come back and realize I gave this place up. I had good reasons for moving, and the two years I’ve lived in DC have been the two happiest of my life. But still.
When I came to Ventura, I had just turned 24, and the place (and of course, the relationship that brought me here) seemed full of promise. Two years later, it’s exactly as I left it. All the stores and restaurants I remember are still here . . .
. . . including a few whose survival I never understood . . .
. . . and most significantly, the original, non-News Corp.-affiliated Kwiki Mart!
Salzer’s, my favorite record store (with apologies to Amoeba, which surely has a more wide-ranging selection but to which I never developed a sentimental attachment) remains. When I stopped in yesterday afternoon, Frank remembered my face, though I think he had to get my name off my credit card. I asked if he still had his band, and he told me they would be playing tomorrow night at a new bar that’s opened up since I left, a place downtown called It’s All Good. (Their booker must have better taste than whoever chose the name, I guess.)
Since I haven’t really found an indie record shop to favor with my commerce in DC, I was eager to drop some cash at Salzer’s. I got the new Rilo Kiley CD, Under the Blacklight, which came with a free vinyl single. (Not only does Salzer’s regularly beat chains like Borders on price, even if you’ve let your KCRW membership — usually good for $2 off every CD you buy — lapse; they also give you freebies like singles and posters. What’s not to love?) Also, since I’m catching up on Spoon and the New Pornographers, I got a pair of catalogue titles; Gimme Fiction and Electric Version, respectively, along with A Year in the Wilderness, John Doe’s new solo record, featuring, appropriately enough “The Golden State.”
Anyway, I went to my old house after that, greeted my old cat, and set out to run one of my old routes.
With it’s moderate temperatures, low humidity, varied terrain, sparse traffic, and of course, its beauty, Ventura is a runner’s paradise. It’s more known as a surfer’s paradise, of course, but I never quite got the hang of that.
After running all summer in the heavy, humid DC air, to run in a place where I can actually stand to wear a shirt comes as a shock to the system.
I carried my camera in my bottle-belt and took these shots while I was out puffing along.
Anyway, after dinner and a catch-up visit with the ex last night, I went back down to Los Angeles, where I’m staying with my beloved professor from the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting, and her two dogs. Today I’m back up in V-Town at least until tomorrow night.
Earlier this afternoon, I was tooling around downtown. Like I said, it’s all exactly as I remember it. Which shouldn’t be strange, but given how quickly Columbia Heights, where I live now, is changing, and how constant the change in Chantilly, VA, where I grew up has been, it’s odd — and comforting — to find some continuity.
I happened to be walking by the post office earlier, and I thought I’d stop in to get another look at the WPA mural I remember. Since I was already there, I figured I should ask if they have the new Marvel Super-Heroes stamps. I recognized two of the four postal clerks working the counter. And when I asked for the super-hero stamps, one of them remembered me. Specifically, she recalled that I was the guy who never wanted to use a meter strip to send a package if I could decorate the box with dozens of stamps instead. Nice.