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Los Angeles, California 2023 

CAROLINE CARR

You say you want to live in Los Angeles, but you don’t know what it means to really live there. You go to random house shows in someone's backyard. Sure, the band may suck since the singer can’t sing, the drummer can't drum, and the guitarist can’t play guitar, but you still have fun. Everyone just likes the sounds. 

 

You dance with your friends. The scent of various types of smoke surrounds you as the music swells. You breathe deep, hoping someone will offer up a cigarette. Someone does. You smoke it but don’t inhale because it ruins your lungs. But you heard that’s only true if you drag on down to the filter. Either way, you don’t inhale. 

 

You end up at the reservoir, staring off into the empty river below. You think to yourself: Are you really alone if crickets are chirping? They keep you company. 

 

You take off your jacket, letting the cold become your only friend. 

You say you want to live in Los Angeles, but you don’t know what it means to really live there. You drive down Hollywood, listening to Sylvan Esso, Cat Power, and John Lennon. You tell stories that are shoved in the back of your mind. They usually collect dust, waiting for you to confess them, but tonight they roam free. 

 

You play Mac Demarco and try not to think about, or question, your existence. After all, you are minuscule. 

 

As the song plays, you remember when you surround yourself with people you didn’t actually like because you didn’t want to be alone with your thoughts, just like you are now. And you liked the idea of someone wanting you, even if you didn’t feel the same. 

You say you want to live in Los Angeles, but you don’t know what it means to really live there. You drive past the places that hold so many memories. Like when you smoked weed on that bench with your friends. Well, they weren’t really your friends. Friend of a friend. Same thing, sort of. 

Afterward, you stumbled to a party, paid five dollars, got your hand marked with a blue X, and ended up drinking root beer from someone's mini fridge. It tasted a few days off. Or maybe you were just too out of it to realize that it wasn’t root beer– it was actual beer. 

 

An unfulfilling night, but you promised ‘your friends’ that you still had fun. 

 

You say you want to live in Los Angeles, but you don’t know what it means to really live there.

 

You drive past Silver Lake, noticing how the flea market is empty. No one is there to offer you a tooth gem. Or persuade you into buying a watch for $25 that doesn’t work. 

 

You have a love-hate relationship with the flea. 

And you walk around, wearing a normal outfit. But people on the road look at you weirdly. And suddenly you’re uncomfortable in your skin, even though Los Angeles is your home. You live here. You’ve made memories here. 

 

You decide that you should leave Silver Lake and go to Los Feliz. That place is filled with big houses, green grass, and scenic routes that are a pleasurable change of pace. 

You say you want to live in Los Angeles, but you don’t know what it means to really live there. You go to a $9 show at the Roxy Theater on Sunset. It takes thirty minutes to get inside and you find a small opening in the back of the crowd. You don’t know any of the songs, but you dance your head off. You make friends with a 21-year-old who thinks you’re not sober. She guesses you’re 20, and you lie and say yes. 

 

You jump into the mosh pit, your upper lip coated in sweat. You make friends with a guy who lost his beanie. And a girl touches your arm, saying, “You’re pretty.” You stare at her, you’ve stolen glances at her all night. But before you can reply, she’s lost in the crowd. 

 

Two tourists invite you and your friends to go clubbing. You decline, walking down the street in the opposite direction. People stare at you. Cars honk. You cover your chest for 0.4 miles before you reach Mel’s Diner. 

You say you want to live in Los Angeles, but you don’t know what it means to really live there. You drive up to the observatory but are forced to take a strange route since the main mouth of the road is closed off. You stare at a group of construction workers as they share a beer in the back of a pickup truck. You mutter under your breath that they should be doing their job, which is fixing up an old statue of Marylin Monroe. Nevertheless, you drive up the other entrance. 

You ignore the full parking lots, how narrow the road is, and the honking that resonates throughout the tunnel. You ignore how the other cars drive further up the mountain, not following the same path as you. 

 

You take a right, driving until you find a spot that isn’t taken. Your car is halfway up the mountain, slanted. 

 

You sit there, reminiscing about how you always wanted to do this. It's only 9 pm and the city is bustling with energy. And here you are, on the top of a mountain, staring at everyone like you’re God.

CAROLINE CARR is a sixteen-year-old writer from Los Angeles, California. In her spare time, she grabs her computer or journal, sits outside, and lets words escape from her mind and onto the paper. She enjoys writing about various life events through multiple lenses, allowing her creativity to take reign of mundane activities.

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