Monday, May 28, 2012

"Try this trick and spin it, yeah."*

Coachella Part V  
    This is the fifth part of the story of my trip to Coachella in 2004. If you feel the need to read the earlier installments, go here: One, Two, Three, Four.
    It should be mentioned (in passing) that Scott and I had a relationship that consisted largely of twisted humor, going to bars and having petty arguments. We were thrown together by circumstance (acting in a very emotionally disturbing play) and had come to rely heavily on each other and the ability to be complete assholes together. We were both bossy and demanding but found ourselves and each other hilarious. We had a lot of fun, and we fought continually. And usually, everything was his fault. We are still friends, though less so. There, now everything is out in the open.
    “So,” Scott said between bites of French toast, “where are we headed next?”
    “The nearest, cheapest hotel we can find.” I attempted to eat eggs and drink coffee at the same time—no easy task, as my keys were clenched so hard in my hand they were leaving indentations.
    I was attempting to inhale bacon through a straw when our check arrived and Scott suggested that I pay it.
    “You’re the one who locked the keys in the car,” he reasoned.
    “Yeah, and? You’re the reason we’re here in the first place. You’re the reason $200 of my money is gone!”
    “Money you didn’t have to begin with!”
    “But money I had at one point and had grown to enjoy!”
    “True as that may be, you are the reason that we’ve been here all night!”
    “You are the reason that we left LA at midnight!”
    “The fact remains that you locked the keys in the car.”
    “Bitch, you’ll be lucky if you get a seat in the car.”
    We fumed and ate and stared hatefully at each other for a minute.
    “Fine,” I said. “We’re splitting everything from here out. Breakfast. The hotel. Gas. Decision making.”
    I threw my half on the table and stormed out in the most dramatic way I could. Functioning on zero sleep, it wasn’t a challenge. 
    Anyway, by 8 a.m. Scott and I were back on I-10 East, looking for any exit near Indio that boasted a hotel. Sadly, we were coming up pretty short. Did I mention there’s nothing in the desert between LA and Palm Springs? Because I lied. There are windmills. And they creep me out because they remind me of Mac and Me.
Windmills in the desert. Shudder.
    We passed a sign: Indio Next 3 Exits.
    “Alright,” I said, “we’re just going to have to get off and look. I don’t want to pass Indio.”
    We exited. Almost immediately we came upon a run-down motel advertising HBO and showers. I considered only briefly what exactly would have to be wrong with a place in order for showers to be a selling point. It didn’t matter. We were exhausted. I was struggling to keep my eyes open.
    I parked and we went inside.
    “We’d like a room,” Scott said. “Preferably one with two beds.”
    “We’re booked.”
    “It’s 8 o’clock in the morning,” the clerk said. “No one checks out until 12. There’s a concert here this weekend, you know.”
    “Yeah, we know,” Scott sighed. We walked back to the car.
    We began driving up and down the busier looking streets we could find. A few times we got lost in residential areas that reminded me of Phoenix: dry, dusty, cookie-cutter. Occasionally we’d see large landscapes of what appeared to be working farmland, dotted with pink and yellow houses and impossibly thriving flowers. But no hotels/motels/RV parks or even campgrounds.
    Every time I ended up in a residential neighborhood, Scott would get mad and I would remind him that he was free to drive at any time and then he would be quiet again. Fatigue had taken its toll on our bickering.
    Eventually we found another hotel. A Spanish-style, yellow building with pretty flower beds. We parked again and went inside. Tiled floors, fountains, flowers all around. But all the pretty had a $200 price tag, and for 6 hours and two college kids that was absurd.
    So we drove some more. We drove for 400 hours. And we died in the desert.
    Just kidding. At 9:30 we found a hotel near the freeway (how had we missed it? Who cared?) that would let us stay until noon for $80.  (I think this is where the term “highway robbery” comes from, but I could be wrong.) But Scott paid.
    We crawled up to the room. It looked like a run-down apartment complex, complete with lawn chairs and holiday decorations outside each screen door. In retrospect, it’s highly possible that we spent the night at some conniving slumlord’s tenement housing. Noisy children frolicked in the dirty pool below. Old ladies fanned themselves and drank lemonade or maybe horchata on the porch. Did they live there? It’s hard to say.
Nicer than the place we stayed. I can't find that place online.
    The inside matched the outside, but there were beds (one king-sized, one a single) and a shower (hooray!).  Scott gave me the king-size and went into the shower, and since I hadn’t brought PJ’s I just chucked my jeans and crawled into the bed. Within seconds I was asleep.
*The Pixies "Where is My Mind?"

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