It's hard to feel bad about missing a flight when you get a free hotel
and rent an expensive car; it's nearly impossible to be down when you
add in "Batman Begins" from the 4th row of an Imax theater, satellite
radio, and GPS navigation to the package.
By the time I reach Venice Beach, I've decided I'm fine with being stuck in California for any length of time. I needed a net café and someone used Tattoo Asylum as a landmark in giving me directions; just asking about my planned Pangea tattoo gets me excited.
Lunch at a cantina right by the beach, and some friendly Californians strike up conversation. One guy is trying to get his book about 6 months spent in New Orleans living with a stripper published and describes his occupation as "well, I write, and occasionally I deal things."
A run on the beach finalizes it: California is my golden parachute. If I suck at real-world work, I can happily live here, bankrupt and working at a bar.
Humbling is my airport experience. I'm sitting at Starbucks sucking on a chai when the stereotypical Californian asks to sit down at my table and strikes up a conversation. Hank is on his way to Israel, originating from San Luis Obispo. Dreadlocked and sounding like a surfer, he never tried the college thing and likes his job driving a forklift. He ignored a tsunami warning last night to drink on the beach instead of evacuating and he finds "his people" at reggae festivals. I'm thinking of excuses to walk away from this conversation when I happen to mention frisbee. Lo and behold: Hank has this cool cloth beanbag indoor frisbee. We kill more than an hour of that dead airport time throwing before someone tells us to stop. It's a ton of fun, and the fact I almost blew this kid off and missed the game a valuable reminder to keep my arrogance in check.