Thursday, 25 September 2014

I found myself in the fire-burned hills, in the land of a billion lights.

As I type this I am in the car driving around Chicago. I thought I was done blogging about this trip, but evidently my brain had other plans as it refuses to be silent.

Please note that I am passenger in said car, not a crazy person who blogs and drives.
I can't even begin to describe just how incredible the last two weeks have been. There are so many moments that didn't make it on the blog but that all add up to make this the  greatest fortnight of my existence. It feels like everyday something incredible happened, whether it was hiking in the Hollywood Hills, having an incredible time at a Mars show or unexpectedly ending up on The Ellen Show to watch Mars perform Do Or Die. (Seriously though, how did that happen?? What is this life??)

I have never been a person who likes the city (I currently live in a rainforest by the ocean), but I have to say, I fell hopelessly in love with LA. Every day when I woke up and looked outside my hotel room window, I felt excited. Like something amazing was about to happen. And every day, it did.

I've been trying to clearly define exactly what I love about LA, to paint a clear picture in my mind, but all my reasons are blurring together like watercolours running down the page. I'm going to try though, more for myself than for you, but I'll share it with you anyway because it will make me articulate my thoughts clearly.

Or, at least, it will make me try harder.

As soon as I got off the plane in LA, I felt a certain kind of magic in the air. It was palpable. Electric. So real that I felt like I could reach out and touch it. Of course a great deal of that would have been my own excitement to be there and to have not been blown up on the way (an actual fear I had), but there was something beyond that, too. Something more.

I think the thing that makes LA so special -- the thing that I could feel from the second I stepped off the plane -- is the fact that it is THE city people go to when they are trying to wrestle their dreams into reality. The energy there is one of creativity, hope, and desperation, and it shows. The streets are lined with artists, impressionists, people selling handmade crafts and people who have lost it all in pursuit of their dreams. It's like nothing I have ever encountered before.

Then there's the Mars of it all. I can't even begin to tell you what it feels like to go and visit iconic places from Mars' history and their present. Hiking up to the place where Kings and Queens and City Of Angels were filmed, going to the Santa Monica pier and watching the sunset behind the ferris wheel, visiting Ennis House and other Artifact locations...This is going to sound blasphemous as hell, but it was almost like going on a pilgrimage. Like going on an amazing journey and discovering all the places and events that inspired the greatest album ever written, and that continues to inspire the band that means the entire world to me. Walking through the streets of Hollywood and hiking up the hills all I could think was, "I found myself in the fire burned hills, in the land of a billion lights." I can see why so many people fall in love with the City of Angels, because I did too. Hard.

There will always be moments and places that stand out to me as favourites, but I honestly can't tell you a single bad experience I had. I simply didn't have one. All the people were super friendly and helpful, all the places we went were simply amazing and I really did have the best two weeks of my entire life. I'll never forget my first glimpse of the Hollywood sign, my first hike up into the Hollywood Hills, or the first time Bec, Jess and I threw pushami over the precipice. I'll never forget visiting The Roxbury Cafè and meeting Tomo's parents and his brother Filip. I'll also never forget how Filip stole my phone and held it ransom, but that's another (hilarious) story. I'll never forget how Tomo's dad gave us the best inspirational pep talk I've ever had, which left us all feeling like anything is possible. Like if we work hard enough, we can make the impossible possible. Not to mention that I had the best damn veggie burger of my LIFE at that café.

I'll never forget hanging with Dai both in Irvine and in Vegas, or how lovely Reni was to us at every single show. We had a very lovely goodbye in Vegas, which even included her telling other people to back off while she spoke with us. That was special. So special. I miss Reni and Dai so much already. I miss everyone. Bec, Jess, Jared, Shannon, Tomo, Filip...I miss them all.

This trip was initially about Mars, but it became about so much more. Even if you take out the Mars moments (don't though because I love them), this was still the best trip I've ever had. I'm already making plans to go back sooner rather than later because the city made such an impression on me. I'm even looking at joining a teacher exchange program so I can stay for a couple of months next time. I could just be drunk on Mars, though. In fact I'm one hundred percent positive there is a good ol' sprinkling of Mars magic responsible for my feelings about LA, but I'm also one hundred percent positive that that's not the only reason I love the city. It's everything -- The Mars, the Jared, the Shannon, the Tomo, the hikes, the sunsets, the people, the memories, the WHOLE FOODS, the dreams, the faith, the hope, the desperation. The belief that if you go there and work hard your dreams will come true, and the knowledge that it has worked for countless people before you. The feeling of being in the right place at the right time and the faith that everything is as it should be.

Jared once asked what the City Of Angels meant to me, to all of us, and at the time I didn't really have an answer. Now I do. The City Of Angels represents hope. It represents faith and it represents dreams. It is the manifestation of the place in our minds where we dream of becoming who we've always wanted to be. It's a place you go to get lost and a place you go to be found. It's a boulevard of hope and dreams. The streets made of desire.

Really, when it comes down to it, I can sum up my feelings about Los Angeles in three words: I am home.

I love this city.

I really do.

The land of a billion lights.

We were the Kings and Queens of promise.

In defence of our dreams.

My Triad alert on The Ellen Show.

"Selfie time!! That's hilarious." :3


TITLE LYRICS: "City of Angels" by Mars.

For more posts about my adventures in The City Of Angels, click HERE.

Bonus: Here's me on Ellen. See if you can find me. This was completely unexpected, random, amazing, and only made possible by a beautiful soul who gave me a ticket even though she didn't even know me. Thank you, @lifegonewild. Thank you so much.