I was exiled from the image-repertoire of Los Angeles. I drove east on the ten, then to the forty, also known as the bourgeois version of Route Sixty Six. Taos was the destination. Miles into sand castle mountains filled in with Echinocactus, I was feeling a deep mourning for my depart from the City of Angels. I was confused by the intensity of this sadness. After all, I will be back in a few months time. Drifting further into the Mojave I was baffled by the concept of time’s effect on my emotions.
Living on a continuum of time is a goal of mine. This way, I never feel the high of highs or the low of lows. Yet, time captures my emotions without consent. Perhaps the image-repertoire is the thief. The people I share beauty with continue to exist. They are images that do not diminish, only in the death of perception. I, in my trivial existence, must carry forthwith. Why not stay in L.A.?
For you, the audience, my explanation is this, I felt a calling that was beyond my desires. The stars have answers I do not have. Onward to Taos I go, desolation images flooding all of my senses.
As Roland Barthes wrote in A Lover’s Discourse, “ In the amorous realm, the most painful wounds are inflicted more often by what one sees than by what one knows.” The desert was cruel to my emotions and senses as I distanced myself further and further from the coast. Alone in the desert, versus being on the beach in Malibu with my dear friends, how these images haunted me.
“Trop penser me font amours.”
“Love makes me think too much.”
I experienced what is known as the Loquela driving hundreds of miles through the Mojave.
“This word, Loquela, was borrowed from Ignatius of Loyola, designates the flux of language through which the subject tirelessly rehashes the effects of a wound or the consequences of an action: an empathetic form of the lover’s discourse. “
I listened to a Santigold song my friends and I had heard on the radio preparing for our day at on the beach over and over again. I replayed memories of a special friendship that made me feel stronger. I had felt joy within all moments, even a trip to Home Depot. Tears were rolling freely from my eyes to my chin, to the floor of my car, to absorb and then become something we do not know how to define. Miles and miles passed this way through the windswept passages of the Mojave.
Where do all of our tears go?
“Pourqoui, do I mourn?”
This love I grasp onto exists everywhere, in every place.
After an uneventful night in Flagstaff, I commenced early in the morning. I stopped at Tom and Suzie’s Diner for lunch, where I ate the daily special of a cheeseburger and fries for five dollars and ninety-nine cents. Tom and Sue are the names of my parents, I felt at home. It was enough food to fuel my ride to explore Dennis Hopper’s Taos.
I checked into the El Camino around seven p.m. This hotel was seedy, at best. The friendly woman at the front desk said with a staccato enthusiasm in a Mexican accent, “There is an indoor hot-tub and pool open until eleven p.m. You can park in front of your room”
I was given room one-sixty- two. I walked inside, my first reaction is always related to scent. The scent of the room made me step back outside in recoil. A thick scent of the decayed air enveloped me. A decade’s worth of stagnant air laced with an overlying culture of prostitution, meth, blood, and a booze semblance of fragrance. I immediately thought this room needs some sage. After a heavy dosing of sage with the front door open even with the high possibility of sparrows flying in, I knew I was fighting a losing battle.
My dog was engrossed with the smells of the dark red stained-ripped up carpet, I scolded him for tasting the past decade’s debauchery, judging myself for judging his tastes.
I decided that I would be better off writing at Old Martina’s. This way I could channel Dennis Hopper as it was his old stomping ground. I approached the bar with my copy of Barthes and a pen and pad hoping to get a southwest Prickly Pear Margarita and fresh Mexican fare. I sat down at the end of the bar, to my left were a couple from New Zealand and Bruce.
The Kiwis left shortly after I sat down and Bruce snuck up behind me to glance at what I was writing. I like distance from people so I was perplexed at first. But, that is Bruce. Perplexing at first, but then…
Bruce is an overt flirt and a beautiful soul. His job is to guide people down the Rio Grande. He immediately tried to recruit me as a guide saying he knew I would do well. He told me he could see I was searching. I was slightly sold by his pitch, river people are my people.
Valerie, the bartender, was used to Bruce and his overt nature and was enjoying his drunk advances on everyone in the bar. Valerie grew up in Taos and was best friends with Dennis Hopper’s daughter. She told me that Dennis owned a house around the corner from the El Camino where I was staying. When she was a teenager she used to hang out with him. Bruce asked if she was attracted to him, Valerie and I both agreed Dennis Hopper is not intriguing because of his sexual appeal.
Bruce invited me to his house two doors down from Old Martina’s. I spent the night with a house of river guides and a man who had done the sound for Grateful Dead. This night broke my image-repertoire of Los Angeles. I always feel at home with seekers, it does not matter what the setting is.
The Loquela is necessary sometimes to break the repertoire of images. Less than twenty four hours in Taos I am running into people I have met here. I began to feel the magic of Taos, I began to make my own light once again.
Reference: A Lover’s Discourse by Roland Barthes