Escape from LA

Day 39, Santa Monica to Union Station, 22 miles

I’m in town less than a day, and I’m on edge. This “town” is the sprawling mega-tropolis of Southern California, a massive population of millions and millions, a hundred towns and cities all run up together. Anonymous doesn’t begin to describe my feelings is such a city. Insignificant.

I meet up with a new friend, a lovely woman I met through online dating, spend the day walking the promenade, getting lunch, walking and talking. I’m at once comfortable and anxious, this getting-to-know-you experience is still novel for me. Afternoon draws close to evening, sunset. We walk the beach, waves are not as cold as Oregon. But not warm. We are hanging out together. I’m wondering at romance, what would it mean to become more intimate than friendship. With someone who is so far away from my current home. It’s too late for the bus, so we send her off home in an Uber. I message I’ll see her tomorrow too.

Back at the hostel, someone is in my bed. A man is in the wrong bunk. I wake him, show him the bed he’s supposed to have. Try to sleep, room hot, I’m anxious and conflicted. I want to get out of this city. And I want to see my new friend again. I sleep only a couple hours, and wake with a decision: move on. I hastily pack my bike, text my friend an awkward apology, then get back on the road. Coffee at Whole Foods, courage for the ride.

I cycle up Venice Boulevard, 13 miles of it, through Los Angeles to the Union Station. Miles of city, to get to the train, then I’m sitting on the Surfliner, letting Amtrak take me through hundreds more miles of city down to Solano Beach. I pedal back to San Elijo State Beach, overlooking a placid ocean. A phone call from the friend I left so hastily back in LA. I’m apologizing and listening and explaining. Wondering at these feelings, how much I still have to learn about relationships, honestly, integrity. She is understanding, gracious. I’m a bit chastised, humbled.

At last I set up my tent in the dark, try to get some sleep. I’ve decided I will ride into Tijuana tomorrow. Baja looms. Am I ready? Will I ever be?

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