May 10, 2004
LOS ANGELES — Let me tell you, California is the new hotness. A lifelong flat-state fella (come on — the one five-foot rise in St. Petersburg is called “Thrill Hill”), I am awed by this state’s rolling geography. The hillsides, the crags of rock jutting out into the ocean (see how I just toss out “ocean” like it’s no big deal?), the blue-gray silhouette of the mountains in the distance — all together, it makes you feel like you’re actually living on a planet. Like, if you ripped up all the houses and streets, there would still be something here. (Clearly, if you did that in Florida, the Gulf of Mexico would just rush in and cover the whole thing.)
The short of it: There is geography here. There are valleys and ridges and all those things I used to read about in kids’ books but, I gotta be honest here, had a hard time imagining. It’s not my fault. Some glacier scraped Michigan flat a long time ago. (And Florida? Man, don’t even get me started. Even the pop in Florida is flat.)
I dipped my toe into the Pacific yesterday, but I suspect I won’t get to the mountains on this too-short trip. I’ll keep seeing ‘em, though — keep risking freeway disaster to gawk at them — and every time I do, the world will get a little bit more interesting.