I drove over to the lower floored non-smoking room and the smell of stale air and fake air freshener and cleaning supplies assaulted my senses. The room was carpeted darkly and the small TV was no larger than 21”. But it was in color, there was cable and, oh shit, “American Idol” was on! Darn, it was now the Mountain Time Zone. So what if I missed a few minutes, I plunked my laptop inside a dresser drawer and dashed over to the McDonalds across the street. Across a wide, empty street. This was not a happening place. It was serene—so different from L.A. Colder, too. I could look up and see stars instead of blinking aircraft lights or satellites or smog. Not a big crowd or a long wait and I’d soon feast on my favorite junk food meal of Big Mac, fries and an icy Coke. Less than $7 for supper. I rush back to the room and sit at the small round table. Tonight I’d dine alone. There would be no new 32” Vizio high def TV that I’d been able to get back in September because I’d saved my money for that purpose. Now, as I dined on the ketchup covered oversalted fries I saw on TV the dazzling lights of the city I’d left that very day. I thought of how the night before I’d been in that city, one of the lights shining up into the sky had been from one of the windows in that small apartment I’d occupied for years. I concentrated on the silliness and fake drama of the excited musical contestants in the midst of playing the Hollywood game. How many were from places like the one in which I was currently staying? Places with large skies overhead and wide empty streets? Or worse, places like where I was heading?
I consumed my junk food and stared at the screen, thinking of how they were filming in the Kodak Theatre and how only a couple of miles from there my stuff was stored in a lonely storage bin—kitchenware, more of my writings and books that weren’t able to fit in my car -- and all the memories that concrete locker now contained.
After the show ended I decided to take a shower and go to bed as I wanted to get as much driving done the following day as I could. Smelled smoke from above and knew that the smoking rooms were upstairs. I wished all that smoke would just vanish – it was such an annoying habit and having been in the Golden State for so long I had seen smoker’s rights vanish just like the substance they exhaled. In a way it seemed like their constitutional rights were being taken from them. I could remember when people were able to smoke at their desks or in a breakroom but no longer.
I was too tired to log onto the computer and I noticed a sight I hadn’t seen in years as I’d deliberately donated my clock/radio to the thrift store. There it was a big red numbered clock that was annoying in its obviousness. I checked the heat and felt nice and toasty warm and kept it on all night so I would remain that way. I was as cold blooded as a reptile and that was another reason I loved SoCA. I restlessly slept I got to see a lot of numbers on that clock radio next to the big bed.