To Live And Write In L.A.: Happy Towel Day

By Hassel Velasco

Currently Working On: Untitled Beatles Project
Currently Listening to: Bridges Coming Home
Currently Re-Reading: Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Douglas Adams

Happy Towel Day

"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea."

I just dictated that entire quote into my Apple Watch, so Mr. Adams wasn't wrong... This thing is pretty neat! Very few things in this world bring me as much joy as re-reading a book from my childhood, I won't get into much more detail because most of the other things that bring me that amount of joy may not be young-reader friendly. Catch my drift? *slow winks*

As I slowly crawl out of the deep, dark depressive hole I was in, I find myself revisiting memories from my childhood. One of the first English language books I read as a child was Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. I can't say I recall how it came into my possession, but needless to say, 12-year-old Hassel was lost in the complex comedy. I didn't get it. It flew over my head. It wasn't until late in high school that I began to understand what Adams meant.

I find myself reading this book again every year around this time in celebration of Towel Day. Adams's work will always hold a place in my heart. I was a young reader, who, at the time, was learning a new language. Adams managed to peek my interest and hold my attention long enough to finish a book—one in a language I didn't fully understand just yet, and now transports me back to happier times.

There are a lot of things recently that have that happiness effect...affect...on me. I just recently renewed my pass to Disneyland, which if you know me, it's not much of a surprise. Being a 40-minute to two-hour drive away from Disneyland doesn't hurt, although south on Interstate 5 can be a pain in the ass.

One of the constant variables from my Florida to California equation has been the existence of a Disney-owned theme park. I've been a pass-holder for a number of years, both here and in Florida, and I always come across people who fail to grasp the concept of going to the most magical place on earth on a consistent basis. I think what it boils down to is the memories I've built at the parks. For example, the first time my sister went to Disneyland was when she was four years old, which at the time made me 22. Her favorite movie was “Peter Pan,” so we stopped by in front of the castle to watch a live show, starring the Mouse and characters from “Peter Pan.”

I'll never forget the look on her face the first time she saw Peter and Wendy. The gleam in her eyes, the belief in everything pixie dust was real. Nothing could take that moment away from her. I remember tearing up. I remember thinking about how that moment would stay with me, and also with her, for years to come. I remember that moment being the emotional equivalent of seeing Shadow limp over into frame during the last five minutes of “Homeward Bound.” If you haven't seen that, here it is:

See, *wipes away tears*

If you're not at least tearing up after that, you're a heartless monster who should never be trusted.

The more I write about The Beatles, the more I begin to try and understand where my love for their music came from. Through some research in my own mind I can recall a specific moment. I remember sitting in my father's car shortly after arriving in the States listening to a radio station play some of my parents' favorite music. Pink Floyd, Foreigner, Toto, Journey. I remember listening to “Twist and Shout” and immediately being drawn to that raspy voice singing. It wasn't until years later that I found out who that raspy voice belonged to, or what the fuck a Beatle was. That moment, sitting in my father's 1995 Mitsubishi Mirage, driving down I-95, listening to his favorite radio station—like reading Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, like watching my sister fall in love with a fictional character—will live with me through this life and whatever may happen after.

California has provided me with a few moments like the ones mentioned above. I got to see whales breach while driving on the Pacific Coast Highway. I got to read a book on a secluded beach with fantastic company, got to rescue a seal (not the artist formerly married to Heidi Klum) about an hour after on that same secluded beach. I got to see Leon Bridges perform “River” in a very intimate setting.

I like to complain about Los Angeles and it's ridiculous (fill in the blank), but I wouldn't change anything about the past year. I'm diggin' this whole holding on to memories part of my life. It provides a good backdrop for my writing, and at the end of the day, I feel like I'm at my happiest when I write about the things I'm passionate about. California. Keep on bringing the feel-good memories.

Happy Towel Day, everyone.

Full Essays Archive