Boxes used to intrigue me as a child. I would crawl inside the cavernous places of my imagination to make forts out of them, spaceships and castles and places where adults couldn’t go. I even had a no girls sign. How quickly that would be removed if I knew then what I love now about women. Then again, maybe I would keep that sign up. Women usually equal question marks, confusion and second guesses.
But boxes are different to me now. You can say I live in one, my apartment basically boxing me in. My thoughts remain quiet in this box. Even if I gave them a voice my apartment walls would keep them in and no one would hear them because I live alone. Sometimes I feel like my creativity and imagination are inhaled by my apartment and spat out somewhere in the cosmos, irretrievable.
Midnight thoughts usually combat this staleness. Vivid. Personal. Cinematic with embellishments here and there. The thoughts cascade through my head like books that have drawings in the corners, the ones revealing themselves to you the more you flip through the pages until the whole picture is there. And I lose myself in perfect thought.
In the morning I shower and get ready for work. Then into the box that is my car and into the boxy places of my work and back to the box of my apartment where I will sleep and wake in the morning, folded into the same creases of a couch imprinted with the left side of my sleeping body. My bedroom rarely holds me. My bed never. And I routinely fall asleep to the almost muted sounds of SportsCenter and not to the murmurs of the girls that got away.
To escape the box I went on a hike yesterday. The trail cuts through the hills behind the Getty where all of Los Angeles is seen existing beneath a canopy of pollution. After completing my Rocky celebration for running up the mountain I notice the ocean out West stretching into the horizon until the water meets the sky in a line made gold by the setting sun. I try to take a photograph of everything but sometimes a camera doesn’t capture the moment properly and I put my iPhone away and take deep breaths and enjoy the moment and the 360 view I have that is not impeded by a building or a passing bus or a billboard promoting things I’ll never watch or need.
The gravel beneath my feet crunches as I begin my descent. I make myself laugh, a random thought coming to me that a fart can most definitely be concealed when walking on this gravely dirt and its sounding crunches. Below me, almost a spec, a bird soars in the air and it feels funny that I am above him, like he has grown legs and I have grown wings. I stand on the top of a rock and stretch my arms out to the side but immediately put them down when I realize what I am doing, the wind blowing all around me and my hair like I am Kate Winslett standing on the Titanic and this is a girls pose, not a mans, and I make sure no one has seen my brief lapse in judgement and smirk to myself when I realize I am the only one around.
The only one around.
And it is nice.
Just me and the world.
The houses of Los Angeles scatter in front of me like imperfect Legos, a multitude of boxed colors clashing. The whole city mirrors the muddy tint of the smog above, like too much color was mixed in the artist’s pallet when this place was painted. The ocean blue offsets the muck and, combined with the sun which now dangles over the Pacific, threatening to take the deep plunge down to the other part of the world, I feel less confined and more open to interpretation.
As I approach the base of the mountain homes come more clearly into view. Where they looked blurry brown from on top of the mountain I can see now that the hues are not as muddled from my lowered perspective but are still not as fresh and alive as the colors of the mountain now looming above me. I eventually make it back to my car, which has been heated by the sun and smells like the orange in my cupholder mixed with old running shoes and socks so I roll down my windows and breathe in the Brentwood air my allergies and I have come to enjoy. Despite the smog above the air is relatively fresh. The ocean wind has done its job today.
When I get back to my apartment I feel less enclosed. Production and physical exertion make you more inclined to relax and I am comfortable plopping on the couch and turning on the Kings hockey game and doing nothing at all. Contentment is good in this moment and my apartment has temporarily become a more geometrically friendly place and is not so boxy.