In April 2003, on an American Airlines 757 to Los Angeles from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, I watched "Brown Sugar," which had some actors worth watching, but it felt like it would never end. There was also the pilot episode of "Still Standing," starring Mark Addy and Jami Gertz. I think there was an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond," too, but I mainly remember the silence throughout the aircraft, and toward the end of the flight, all the overheard monitors showing the music video for "I Drove All Night" by Celine Dion. It would just be something to remember occasionally during an idle evening, but never to dwell on. Earlier today, I dwelled.
Adding to a full Saturday (the library, to pick up a new tsunami of books waiting for me; eating at Wing Stop; some hours spent at Sam's Club, where I bought the paperback edition of the wonderful, wonderful The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister, and immediately handed it to my aspiring-chef sister as required reading), our Sunday included seeing Celine: Through the Eyes of the World, an affecting, at-times powerful documentary about the delightfully divaless Celine Dion's world tour, begun after she finished her run at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. The film began with her singing "I Drove All Night," and I realized: This is a major sign.
My family's flight neared Los Angeles with that song playing. And now, here I was in a theater at Edwards Valencia 12, six and a half years later, six and a half years older, remembering the newspaper I worked at for two years, remembering how I was at first fascinated with the valley, and the two most interesting people I met at the start (one, a backpacker who had stayed in Las Vegas for a time beforehand; the other an aging cleaning woman who could tell where each plane in the sky was headed), remembering all the taxing times I've had here, and all those days where I just relaxed, ignored everything there could possibly be to worry about. Overall, I've tolerated this valley. I've simply lived here. No real emotion toward it, no zealous support toward anything within it. So when it comes time for my family and I to leave Southern California and move to Las Vegas, I won't have any regrets. I won't want to stay for any reason.
This may be the year that we will finally get there. It's appropriate that I should hear "I Drove All Night" here in Southern California. I've heard it once or twice again before this, but not to the extent that I was actively paying attention to it as I was in the movie theater, as I was on that flight. That, to me, shows that Dad may be called soon for something there. On March 12th, we have to be in Vegas so he can take a law exam related to him becoming fully certified to teach business education in Nevada, but I think it will become more than that in the coming months. Something good may finally break through. We've waited enough years already, but this feels like the year. Finality may finally come.