Monday, April 16, 2007

part of me you carry, and part of me is gone

When I first saw this movie, I was just getting ready to move to California. But it was a different California- where I was headed promised blinding sunshine and rainless days. Flowers would bloom everywhere, but when the ground was watered, it would reek, betraying its discomfort, betraying that it was not made for such vegetation. My life in that part of California was just like that. Everyone thought the pieces had all come together; until that point, it seemed I did everything according to plan, because I was always rationalizing that every step was calculated, even when it was not. My life there held that kind of perfect, sunny promise, and was just as, if not more, false.

Before I left to go to that California, California 1.0 if you will, I developed a habit that would come in handy down in those suburbs of Hollywood. I started going to movies alone, fanatically. It got so that I actually preferred going to see them alone. It's a knack I've lost over the years- probably because now I'm so lazy that I'm just as likely to wait to see it in the comfort of my own dwelling. But I used to adore the singular feeling of sitting alone in a dark theater in the afternoon, as if they were playing the movie just for you.

So I saw this movie alone, and, like most movies I saw in the suburbs of New Jersey, it was not that impressive. I'm not a huge fan of Edward Burns, and this particular movie did very little for me. But I'm not one to let that get in the way of a good soundtrack (see Reality Bites and I Am Sam for other examples). I really never paid much attention to Tom Petty either, but he scored the entire soundtrack- and I can confidently state it's the best thing about the movie.

California is not my favorite song on the album, but it's the most cheerful and optimistic, and has the least to do with the film. And for some reason, a decade later, the line still sticks in my head, because it's just a silly little refrain:
California's been good to me
I hope it don't fall into the sea
Sometimes you got to trust yourself
It ain't like anywhere else.

When I first heard it, I pictured my life, pictured my life in California 1.0 unfolding like waves and waves of good fortune. I pictured myself with the sun behind me, hair blowing back in the wind, driving back east with sunglasses on. I imagined this type of triumphant return from California. Instead I came back defeated.

But here it is now, California 2.0, out of beta, and even though I am not making the trip by car, this song comes back to me, and wow, there has never been a better example of how things work out in ways that are impossible to predict.

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