I don’t have an answer to the question. Nobody does. There are lots of knowing one-liners and lots of crutches to fall back on – fire, water, mudslides, the O.J. Simpson chase, in that order – but no answers. Flexing your wit and rhetorical muscle isn’t a substitute for knowing a place. Knowing a place has nothing to do with language. It’s about hours logged. You have to drift and listen to people and see what changes and stays the same until you know it in your gut.
I’m putting in my hours, but for all that driving I’ve done, I haven’t seen the ocean once. I wouldn’t know how to get to the 101 from here if my life depended on it. Today, my dad asked me to stop in Marina Del Rey to pick up some dirt for him, I don’t know, some kind of special landscaping dirt, and neither of us knew where that was. I guessed that it must be on the 101 someplace. I asked my brothers if they knew where Marina Del Rey was. None of them knew either. Another pretend place.