101 from the 101
It was next to a pool at a motel off the 101 where a loved one told us he was going to die. It was just about Camarillo, heading north and close to where the ocean pops out, the point at which cares are supposed to dissolve into the expansive vistas, where he told some others.
Since there was no hope, there was going to be a lot of love. The 101, or the stretch of it between LA and Santa Barbara, became the conveyor belt for delivering it. Also: comfort, silliness, entertainment, some bucket list fulfillments, support. Alcohol, drugs.
It’s been a couple of years now since the end. One of the last trips towards it was on a Friday, and the 101 was entirely, eerily empty for what seemed like a long stretch of miles. Me, the road, the palms, and the ocean. I had a dozen fancied-up deviled eggs strapped into the passenger side for my friend. He ate them all, in one glorious and impressive sitting, and then YouTubed that famous scene from Cool Hand Luke.
I took photos out the car window on every trip up and back, of which there were easily over a hundred. I still compulsively take the palm pictures every time I drive the 101. They — the palms and the photos, and the work they inspire — are residual proofs of love. There is softness and some comfort in these landscapes, in their unbound, sometimes blurred, undefinable edges.
-Kim West, 2015