“Is It Raining?…No, That’s Smog. Welcome to LA”

Welcome back to ‘Vanlife’ 

While the VanStory has taken a tad bit longer than a brief hiatus, it’s back. There’s just too much more juicy goodness that needs to be shared!


There comes a time when a girlfriend must introduce her friends to her boyfriend. You know, the ones that know her from her other life, yeah, the one with the demons in the closet. Some demons are furry and have weird teeth, some are silly and have a southern accent, and others are hippies. Mine are hippies. Granted, after a crisp adult beverage I cannot deny the southern twang that emits from my lips. Well, actually I can, and I’ll just go ahead and blame it on demons… It’s hard to know where to start the ‘explanation’ of what having hippy demons really means. I still don’t even know the half of it, as how does one even explain something that is so ingrained into your life’s history?

So I’ll just start with Vegas at our backsides, somewhere around the start of our conversation…

Now that we were on the road AWAY from the Pink-Panther-Pajama-Pants-Tire-Change-Situation, with bagel food coma fully engaged, the urge to nap overwhelmed me. I then began napping attractively with “minimal” drool, neck in an impossibly twisted angle, fully exposing my lack of tonsils, with an airy whine, much like that of a dying swamp cooler, emitting from the back of my throat. I’m sure Hot Man was recalling all of my redeeming qualities during this out-of-body napping experience that I was currently having. The hot air that I had been sucking down had slowly been increasing in density and unidentified pollutant mugginess, until the mass was no longer conducive to staying asleep. As my eyes rolled forward and battled the eerie light, I saw the thick grey sky and my brain struggled, trying to place what was wrong with this situation. Muggy + Grey = Rain, right? Oh wait, big-ass cities bring in something else, smog. Hello L.A., how nice to NOT see you there. After spending all of this time in the wide-open, human barren desert, I had forgotten why southern California kinda made my skin crawl. Gross.

Thar be SMOG!
Thar be SMOG!

I woke in time for a phone call from my L.A. starlet who was about to go hike on one of those supposed hills hiding behind the smoggy veil. We made plans to meet at her place to get us some Internets and clean scalps.

Hot Man: “So how do you know the Starlet?”

Me: *reaching deep into the history catalog in my brain, I searched for her file* “Um… I’ve known her for forever. I think since I was like, 13 or something.”

Hot Man: “So, how do you know her?”

Me: “Well… You know that stuff I mentioned about my family… the hippie stuff? I met her at one of those things. Our parents brought us, and we hit it off.”

Hot Man: “..?..”

My communicating skills were obviously at their maximum functioning capacity… NOT.

When talking about my past, I can recall immensely detailed memories at ease, a lot of them. Heck, I probably remember more of my brother’s childhood then he does. And, not to toot my own horn, but most the time I have a decently eloquent way of speaking. Hot Man pointed out to me that when I talk about this stuff, my brain sort of, shorts out, and I just sort of stop. So shoot me, I’m nervous, this was exactly why I wanted him to meet my L.A. Starlet. I had a feeling that she might be able to do a better job at explaining myself than I could, just by hanging out with me. That’s what friends are for, right?

Madeline Merritt and Sarah Blessington

Well, she didn’t disappoint. Greeting us with her vivaciously bight self, I was immediately more nervous. Why? Because, ‘oh shit’, what if she says something bad? Bad? What’s bad about me? I wasn’t entirely sure, but I was searching his face for proof that I was. That somehow the milk had soured and my game was up. Why did I feel this way? It’s not like I had a secret obsession with murdering puppies. What was it about myself that I was so scared of? Abnormality? Hippies? Hippies aren’t that scary! I wanted to show him the perfect me, yes, with my quirks, giggles, awkwardness, and love. But, for the past several years I had been becoming an expert in not talking about my love of plants, animals, my fellow men and women, and the overall magic that this universe holds, because usually, that ‘sharing experience’ is followed by an inquiry into my sanity, then followed by a good natured, “So how long have you hated America and worshiped Satan?” Maybe I had just lived in Grand Junction for too long… But regardless, I found that keeping to myself about my beliefs, whatever it is that I believe, was in my best interest. But in doing so, I had forgotten how to talk about it myself. I had yet to breathe a word of how much me trying to explain this was freaking me out, as I was still trying to solve the puzzle myself. So far, Hot Man showed no sings that I had somehow grown horns, turned purple, or started to mass produce primordial ooze from ‘being’ a ‘hippy’. With these thoughts, I started to calm a little bit, but I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop.


Bryon and Sarah

Showered, “fro-yo-ed” and ready for Mexican food, accompanied by tasty margaritas of course, we hit Hollywood. My Starlet’s friend that she had hiked with previously, came to join us. It was a perfect conversation full of ‘truths’ about a past both my Starlet and I shared, yet somehow my internal operations were silently going haywire. I was already reading my last will and testament to this relationship. How could someone so awesome love a closet hippie-ish-thing-a-ma-bob? But, in hopes that maybe I was crazy, I smiled, let my lady do the talking, and ate my food. Occasionally, I reached over to Hot Man to make sure he was still real.

Next, we went dancing. I know this might be a strange concept, but this was the first time I had ever been at a bar with all people my age, and by golly, they all were hipsters. Vintage lace tights accompanied by high-waisted leather filled the concrete enclosure, their bodies lubricated by oldies music. This scene seemed all too fit for a grind-house chainsaw slasher movie. It was oddly comforting. As I sipped the most expensive beer I had ever purchased (seriously, wtf Hollywood??), I found myself watching the comical mating rituals of my generation. Then, as the oldies music swirled around my ears and my beer emptied, I knew I just needed to dance. Yes, I said it. Whisking my starlet onto the bar floor, we twirled around and twisted it out, and let the night grow older under our feet.

Once we got to my Starlet’s apartment, Hot Man and I had a chance to be alone. Without anyone else around to tell my story for me, salty drops of fears began squeezing out from beneath my eyelids. Fear that with this chance to truly see me, that I would be revealed as spoiled mystery meat from the cafeteria, which should have stayed in the landfill. His fingers slid against my damp cheek, to cup my face. Pulling me to look at him, my eyes promptly fell deep into his. Love can have so many definitions in so many languages, but that time-stopping feeling is a more enveloping affirmation than any black hole of self-deprecating bullcrap.

With the wash of calm, his arms tightly wrapped around me, I began my nightly dream dance of future inspiration in the land of the ‘Stars’.

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