Perhaps you have had the same experience.
You leave Los Angeles for several days, weeks, maybe months. You return and within hours, it's like you never left.
For me, returning to Los Angeles annihilates the memories of where I have just been with an astonishing speed.
Within a day of being back here, I have been swallowed whole by the enormity and anonymity of this stucco wonderland, even though I utilize a very small part of it. So, within two trips to the grocery store, all the miles I have traveled in the last several months are so jammed into the corner of the rearview, it all could have been a dream.
The utilitarian hovel in which I dwell is a warehouse for one middle-aged man. There is a microwave and a kettle. Defrost, brew, maintain. This is the place I store myself as I wait to get back out into what Mark Twain referred to as “The Territory.” That a few weeks from now I will be going to the grocery store to provision for another journey with enough uncertainty to keep things interesting allows me to remain focused and motivated.
Over the last three decades of my life, frequent travel has been the constant. I have in a way painted myself into a corner. It is increasingly difficult for me to maintain below a certain velocity and rate of speed. Life off the road is for me an approximation of life. Some days are challenging, to say the least.
When I am off the road, the high point of the week is the radio show on KCRW. It is the fastest two hours of my life. I prep the show for hours, usually over several days, playing the songs over and over to make sure it's all it can be. I go to the station, meet up with the other two I work with and, in what feels like 20 minutes, it's all over and I am back in my car.
Why am I telling you this? Because I wonder if Los Angeles makes you feel like it sometimes makes me feel. I am not putting the place down, but living here can hollow one out. It is a hungry stranger of a city that fascinates, attracts, horrifies and repels minute to minute. It allows one to live in it for years and never feel like they have lived here for any period of time.
I have been all over the world and no place makes me feel so incredibly alone at times as L.A. does.
There is no way my take on this place is unique, and I am throwing this out there so in the event that it resonates with you, you know there's someone else out there.
Read Henry Rollins' exclusive column for L.A. Weekly every Friday on our music blog, West Coast Sound, and follow @laweeklymusic on Twitter.
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