In Search

I saw this movie today in a film festival.

My interest was purely nostalgic. I wanted to see Los Angeles. I’m not sure I would have bothered had I not moved. If seeing the city had been my only goal of the day, I could be feeling quite successful now. I got to remind myself that I have sat at the same table the lead characters occupy when they first meet. But not on blind dates, only with people I already knew well. One of those times I I was watching B- and C-list actors (Gunther from Friends, anyone?) display themselves and celebrating my friend Mercy’s leaving her job with a few afternoon drinks. As I remember that was the perfect place for a feeling of decadence, pretty, with outside seating and well-presented food, but without any real expense.

I once watched a movie in the gigantic beautiful Orpheum theater near the end of its run as a regular movie house. I saw Mission Impossible with Spanish subtitles. There were maybe 20 people on opening night in a theater that seats thousands. This was before the downtown “renaissance.” Many people avoided the neighborhood. So that’s where I went if I wanted to avoid those people and check out the bargains and great buildings. I remember that day because it was the first time I had tacos made from tongue and the first time in LA I worried about police shooting me. Why stop me and not the white friend in front of me or the one behind. But I digress.

I felt like a ghost haunting the film. I had the eerie feeling that they were walking around in my footsteps and a sense of having disappeared. I don’t know exactly how to describe it. Have you ever seen a movie setting that’s so familiar that you can feel when the pavement changes when they’re walking or can remember the graffiti on the ATM a character uses? I guess that alone wouldn’t be so weird without the feeling that I can’t get back, but haven’t really gone anywhere. It feels as though instead of arriving someplace I’ve started doing things. I know one can’t actually take the place of the other and that people are always somewhere. But much of the time I can’t make sense of this place except as something happening to me, or something that I’m doing. It would help if people would stop saying strange things at me on the street.

I liked the movie, though I don’t know if I would have liked the characters had they been real and had I encountered them. I would have enjoyed watching them from a nice safe ironic distance. Still I might have found myself at their loft party or run into them while loving downtown. I sure as hell would have visited the lost shoe website.


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