I found myself back in my old neighborhood today.
Since I live in the same city I grew up in, this is not a particularly unusual state of affairs. Also my old neighborhood has become one of the places where people like me tend to live in Los Angeles. East Coast types have been known to describe it as reminiscent of New York. They are out of their fucking minds, because it is nothing like New York.
That's not really the point, except to say that as often as I go there, and as many people as I know that live around there in their normal adult lives, I still, usually, get some kind of charge out of being in the place where I grew up.
I don't know how to describe the charge. Some of it is just me being annoying -- I'm hanging around with you and we're going to some bar there and I have to tell you the first time I went there and the first time I saw that building and I tend to say it in a way that suggests that I think I have some kind of superior claim on this bar and this building even though you're the one that goes there every week. Like that.
We're not just dealing with my need for self-branding, though. Tonight I was walking down Talmadge. It was dusk and there were clouds and I remembered roller-skating down that street circa age 11 and I remembered stopping at the mildly sinister convenience store to be bought Martinelli's apple juice in the apple shaped container by my folks (for whom such food counted as decadence). The convenience store isn't there anymore, but there was something about remembering a time before you knew the probabilities of life, a time where you could make up stories about the various buildings and for all you know they're true. Also just the layer upon layer of time spent on that street, fugitive memories of a party in one of those houses, or maybe a nightmare about one of those houses. The past, a little out of reach.
I listen to a certain amount of sappy country music. Kenny Chesney has this song called Back Where I Come From that's all about growing up in the country and how he's proud of it. It's a little stranger to have grown up some place that lots of people come, that's a big city designed to be legible to outsiders, and yet to want to stake that mine, all mine, kind of claim to the place.