Friday, February 5, 2010

"Has your mind taken hold again, dear Professor?"

I hope you'll excuse my long absence. I've been having a Jason Bourne moment.

For those of you who haven't enjoyed multiple viewings of The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum like The Child and I have: At the beginning of The Bourne Identity, Matt Damon is found floating in the ocean with gunshots in his back; he has no idea who he is or how he got there, or why people seem to be coming after him with nefarious intent. Turns out he's a highly trained CIA assassin, but he doesn't know that. He just knows that no matter what country he's in or what life-threatening situation presents itself, he can miraculously speak the language and instinctively break a guy's neck in less time than it takes to say, "Who am I? Where am I?"

My Bourne Identity Crisis is less deadly, more domestic. Still, a little unsettling.

I'm back in Los Angeles again, this time to close escrow on my condo, sell everything I own (except my baking dishes and my books; too many books), pack everything in boxes and finish—really, I mean it this time—the move to New York.

At least, my body's back in L.A.; my mind is apparently flying in on the redeye. I get in the car and my body knows how and where to drive, but my brain is going, "Wait, what?"

We arrived at LAX on a weekday morning, and took the #6 Culver City bus up Sepulveda toward home. I watched the city go by out the window. The Citibank (Didn't that used to be called something else? What the heck was it?), the Trader Joe's, Dinah's Family Restaurant. It all felt familiar—my body knew enough to relax, sensing we'd be on this bus for a while—and it was completely strange, too. (The strangeness amplified when the bus stopped outside a mental clinic and a woman about my age got on, her hand clamped over her own mouth. She sat in the front of the bus and rocked a little, emitting stifled screams from behind her hand.)

We walked in to an oddly familiar foreign apartment, everything in a realtor-approved state of fake perfection. What is this place, and why do I know where they keep the extra rolls of toilet paper?

Since then, we've been going through the appropriate motions: selling, packing, boxing. A lone desk chair bobs sadly on an ocean of blank carpet. The desk is gone, though; carted off by another in a new series of Craigslisters. The sound of screeching packing tape travels around the apartment—now it's coming from the walk-in closet! now from the kitchen! A molehill of taped, labeled cardboard boxes grows into a mountain in The Child's former bedroom.

It's weird. What can I say? Qu'est-ce que je peux dire? Wait, what?

And it's exciting, too, of course. I'm developing a new identity. Someone who can fly in from New York, be dropped down in the middle of Los Angeles and instinctively find her way around. And, of course, miraculously speak the language. Sorry I'm late, I was trying to avoid the 405, so I took the 134 to the 101 and got off at Coldwater and came over the canyon, which was fine till I got to Santa Monica, so I thought Olympic would be better, but...

Try that, Jason.

* * * * *

Title courtesy Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn, of course) in The Philadelphia Story, screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart, based on the play by Philip Barry.


Wzzy said...

How wonderfully you expressed the feeling of connected-but-not! We lived in London for four years and feel that way every time we return. We know it, but don't. We belong, but don't. It's home, but it's not.

Hoping to see you before you go... xo

So Lovely said...

As you know I am a huge fan of the Bourne movies especially Noah Vosen!

Los Angeles is a strange girl or boy. It can be beautiful at times, right after its rained and then it can turn and attack you for no reason.

Can't wait to see you. Lots to catch up on. xxx

Marilyn said...

And what a wonderful identity it is! Thanks for sharing your beautiful journey. You go, and give NYC your "withering glance of the goddess." xo