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LOVE & MATING

PHOTOS BY M. SOLITA, APRIL 26-30, 2001.

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(start) san francisco 2 ::

los angeles 2 3 4 5 6 ::

coachella music festival 2 3 4 ::

desert driving ::

joshua trees ::

san fran, back again 2 (end)

***

IN THE THIRD GRADE, I hit my first dose of adventurism, that innate human urge to push into the unknown and throw yourself into unfamiliar terrains. It was a simple test — a bastardized version of handball on the Immanuel Lutheran Elementary School parking lot involving the shy, red-haired 7-year-old version of me and Rex, quite possibly the Lutheran-school, 8-year-old incarnation of Chuck Palahniuk’s Tyler Durden.

This game pitted four kids, standing in a square divided into quadrants, against each other’s nimble hands and reflexes, each bouncing this spongey plastic rubber ball into each other’s chalk-outlined territory over and over and over ad infinitum, until someone’s reflexes passed out and he mangled his bounce and was thrown out of the competition. It’s a trial of steadied, deliberate elimination — last man standing takes all.

Rex was the emperor of this land, and not just because of his agility. Rex was smarter than the rest of us, you see, because Rex had an inkling what “intimidation” meant. The rest of us were clueless — we wasted all our time on our bouncing craft. Rex, on the other hand, just spent his time practicing creepy faces in the mirror and spiking his hair all the hell over to freak our 7-year-old shit out. And that’s how Rex became The Emperor of Handball, much in the same way that awful ’70s rock bands are still proclaimed The Kings of Rock 2001 on the covers of equally awful, ridiculously profitable music magazines. It’s all in your self-projection, luv.

But that’s a self-projection I’ve never felt naturally, except in rare moments. On one such occasion of inexplicable confidence, Rex and I faced off for an entire afternoon, trading match for match, sweat for sweat, oncomers quickly falling out of the game within seconds, always and only leaving Rex and me to stare each other down. My clearest memory of that recess is just a flurry of parking lot images and sounds — the tapping, the spinning, the pavement, the slapping — so lost within my own zone that I had no physical choice other than to just play my game. I really believe we confidence-lagards always have and always will surprise ourselves in those moments. We quiet types never want to attract attention to ourselves out of some fear that we just might not live up to other people’s expectations of us. But when you’re in that Zen-ish zone, all those self-conscious hangups implode and disappear and you find yourself lost solely in your own moment of self-realized vindication. And in those moments, we are forced to accept the reality that we deny out of modesty — that we’re quite simply pretty goddamned good. Once we give ourselves the chance to prove it.

And that, to me, is what adventurism and travel is all about — or should be about. Adventurism need not be defined by acts of bravado or recklessness or machismo. Its seductive root is the opportunity to test yourself, to see how you’ve matured and strengthened your wit and self-reliance. To take everything you’ve learned about yourself and your world, and just plant yourself somewhere new and see how you react and how others react to you.

So it’s in that spirit that I tried to capture a small part of southern California on film last month. Four days, five nights — and zero sleep — littered between San Francisco and Los Angeles with friends old and not-so-old, but all of them good.

—M. Solita, May 2001

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michael solita lives and works and listens to braid much too much in new york city.