35 minute freewrite
Los Angeles Apartment
She stood in her empty sublet, looking out of the long blinds of her sliding door. It was sunny and warm, normal for LA, but Claire couldn’t get over the sense that everything here was weird.
A few weeks ago she was on the road, driving through a blizzard, and today she was eating cereal out of a pot with a plastic spoon in her underwear, sitting out in the sun. Somehow, her situation seemed to have made a lateral move.
Two weeks ago, Claire had made a very practical, (for her) decision. She would throw out all of her stuff, save for whatever would fit in the back of a hyundai, and drive it across the country, where she had no job, no friends, and no prospects.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
She quit her job, though quit is sort of a relative thing, as Claire only freelanced, working at an Ad Agency doing mockups, some junior copywriting, but mainly the creative equivalent of clerical work. At 28, she had a little bit of money saved up, and really, given the new circumstances of her life, had no real reason to be anywhere. So flush with opportunity, and depressed out of her mind, she settled up her New York affairs, business and otherwise, and then hoped in a car after making a really long playlist, and bolted.
The drive was horrorific on some levels. Very quickly she discovered the reality of the situation she had put herself in: no friends, no talking, no place to be, which turned into ALL ALONE, ALL ALONE, ALL ALONE, when she sat in her car driving for miles on end.
But somehow, when she crossed the border of California, things seemed to change. As if by a magical windfall, she felt better, relieved. She could hear birds, and small cool salt water in her nostrils. And the waste land of LA was constantly on, 24 hours of lights, and distractions! Even if she was alone, it didn’t feel so isolated. At first.
After the first week of her sublet ended, the novelty of being there was already starting to wear off. This was due to two key events. The woman she was subletting from, influenced by how lonely and sad Claire seemed, staying in that one room sublet, decided to make the leap and move in with her boyfriend. Like a smack in the face of her own situation, Claire found, bit by bit, that her new apartment was being phased out. She would come home, and discover a few less dishes, a missing ottoman, closets emptied out. But slowly, in vaguely imperceptible amounts, until one day she found her self sitting on the floor in her sleeping bag, eating cereal out of a pot, with a plastic spoon.
It’s a bit like how they tell you if you put a frog in boiling water, it will jump out, but if you slowly bring the water to boil, with the frog in the pot, it will stay there and let itself be killed.
But waaaay less dramatic.
The second factor into Claire’s big life change while living in LA came when she, after realizing that she was slowly watching her home melt away, discovered that she had no one to talk to after the TV was taken away. So she started to go out a bit more, to coffee shops, and one in particular, with the good smoothies, and turkey bacon. And while sitting there, she saw a man, youngish, maybe mid twenties, who was reading a book, by an author she loved, even though it was cliche, as everyone of this age loves that author. But the way he was reading this book, as if it was the most important thing ever, with that air of, I have no where else to be, I’m not killing time, sort of entranced her. She really wanted to be this man, she wanted to sit in that coffee shop that excited about anything. And so after staring at him for two hours, straight, when he got up to leave, she followed him out the door.
She followed him for the block it took him to get to his car. She followed him for the 15 minutes he was on the freeway, always trying to stay one car behind, two cars ideally, though that made it hard to see him, to make sure he was still there. She suddenly realized that following people is hard! It’s not like the movies, where you tail someone and then cut to the next scene, they are still, after all that work, unnoticed and right on the tail of their man.
Instead, it felt, to Claire, like she was constantly almost losing him, or worse, that he knew he was being followed, and at any point would freak out, and stop the car to break in her windows.
After 15 minutes on the freeway, she exited in Van Nuys, at a gas station, where he pulled in. He was in there for awhile, too long really, and she got nervous. But by this point it was too late for her to stop following him. She had to see where this would go, even if it ended badly. So after an excruciating 45 minutes in the parking lot, she got out of the car and walked into the mini mart, and looked around. But he wasn’t there.
“Hey,” she said to the clerk, “did you see a guy come in her?”
“I see lots of guys, chicky. You’re gonna need to be more specific.”
Claire thought about what she would say to describe him, his dirty black hair, medium size build, t-shirt and shorts, but realized it was totally non-descriptive. And worse, what would he say, she say him come in here, so it’s not like she’s crazy. And right as that thought crossed her mind, she turned around, her eyes catching a blur of movement, and saw him running to his car, before he made eye contact with her, and driving off.
Claire stood there for awhile as if she had seen a ghost, unsure as of what to do. She decided, against her better judgement, to keep following him. So she raced to her car, and was about to get into the beat up hyndai when the guy she was following t-boned her car, crushing in the driver side door.
“Fuck you!” he said, as he sped off.
She looked at her door, where the glass had shattered over her Carl’s Junior wrappers and old bottles of juice, and started laughing. She sat on the curb of the mini mart, when the guy behind the counter came out.
“Holy shit!” he screamed. "What the fuck was that?!“
"The total manifestation of how my life feels right now,” she mumbled.