Sunrise over Los Angeles

I wake up on the couch in the house in Silverlake. I listen for movement in the house. Nope. Everyone who went to the Good Luck Bar last night are either sleeping or gone. I look outside the big window above my couch that faces the Hollywood sign. Everything’s light blue, like the sky is drawing its breath for the sun to rise. I swing my feet onto the hardwood floor, put my shoes on, and walk out the door.

There’s a flight of concrete stairs down from the house to get to the street. I check my head before I go down the steep steps. Nope. No headache. Clear senses. The scent of the night blooming jasmine planted two houses over is gone. The smell of the city is starting to replace it. I check my head one more time, hitting it a little. Nope. Still clear. Lucid, even. The Hollywood sign gleams as I trot down the stairs to Hyperion Avenue, where my car waits.

I get in my car and pull out west on Sunset. The clock on the radio says 6:00 a.m. I pass the Circus of Books on the right, purveyor of fine quality pornography and whipping cream canisters that’s open late and opens early. I turn left onto Santa Monica and see the short line to get into the Saturday morning afterhours at The Garage. I always wonder about the people lined up to get into a club at 6 in the morning.

Driving down, I pass Jay’s hot dog stand. There’s a Santa Monica Blvd. bus stop and bench in front of the stand, and the bench faces a mural on the side of a 7-11. Two flamenco-looking dancers in red dance in front of a clock, on top of a Mayan face that becomes foliage at the edges. It’s entitled Clockworks, and stands without explanation.

I turn left onto Vermont and stop to gas up. The sky is starting to burst into orange and yellow. Bright. The sun’s about to come up. Pulling onto the South 101, rows and rows of palm trees are silhouetted against the bright orange sky. It’s a moment of clarity, both for the city and my head, and I watch the sky turn brighter and brighter. I take the South 110, under the bridges downtown, and the skyscrapers, the few lonely buildings that hold court over a hundred solid square miles of metropolis sprawl wait for the sun to rise. After I get out of downtown, I look out the window to my left and see the sun. And more palm trees silhouetted against it.

The sun rises behind me on the 105. From this high, flat vantage point, I can see the whole sky changing colors. Too quickly, I get to the 405, which brings me back to the Inglewood exit towards the beach cities. Stopping at the light at Artesia, I look out to my left. There’s a compact car with three surfboards on top. Inside is a family, Dad at the wheel, Mom sitting shotgun, and three kids, all pre-adolescent, sit dazed in the back, like they’d just woken up.

Pulling into my driveway, my head is still clear as I walk home. The worries and voices are there, on the fringes of perception, waiting to burst into full cacophany, but for now, the rising sun keeps the clarity in place and the internal monologue away.

lyrics: Anthony Kiedis