So, I've made some changes around here. Bit of a new format, updated about page, photos, etc. I also have a new list of all things LA.
It's been interesting to make these changes. I realized that doing so is very symbolic of my recent feelings about Los Angeles.
I chose the title for this blog so arbitrarily. It was back in June of 2003. I'd been living here in Los Angeles for almost a year. I moved here from Manhattan with my then boyfriend M. We'd lived in a five-floor walk up in the East Village for four years. I moved into that apartment a few weeks before I turned twenty. New York was like nothing I'd ever experienced.
That first summer on Avenue B I had insomnia - the only time I've ever really had it. I stayed up to watch the sunrise every morning, sitting on the futon couch in our little living room, smoking cigarette after cigarette, journal cracked open on my lap, pen scribbling, scribbling. The Chrysler building twinkled in the distance and I waited for the sky to turn from black to green to yellow to rose. Only then did my eyelids grow heavy, my breath shallow. I remember staring out the window at the city skyline and thinking that I would never leave Manhattan.
It was devastating to move to Los Angeles. After four years in New York I was sure that I'd never leave. I remember driving through the Holland Tunnel in the moving truck with M, tears running down my cheeks, turn around, turn around, turn around.
My Dad was sick. All sorts of things. Heart problems, lung problems, clots and hips. He'd wanted me to move to LA for years. All the time I'd lived in Manhattan, I'd been flying out to LA every six months. Always on JetBlue, into the Long Beach airport where you walk down the stairs from the airplane, out onto the tarmac, the warm Santa Ana winds lifting your shirt, palm trees in the distance, the streets, Fifth Avenue, the buildings and people, feeling far, far away.
And then after September 11 the idea of leaving Manhattan for a while seemed more appealing. Funny that I've never written about that here...September 11. I stood on my roof that morning, a cup of coffee in my hand, disbelief and shock thudding through my veins, watching the towers burn, and eventually fall. And after that things changed. The city wasn't the same anymore. I wasn't the same anymore. None of us were.
And so when M suggested that we finally think about moving to LA, I sighed in resignation, as though it weren't even really up to me. There were suddenly too many reasons to leave. I remember the catch in my father's voice as he tried to express his excitement, his gratitude. I remember crying as I walked home from my Time Out New York internship one day after they'd asked me to apply for an editorial position and I'd quietly declined. I remember that long drive through the Holland Tunnel, coming up into the harsh light and smog, the city, the buildings, Manhattan behind us.
The long drive across the country, wide roads and fields and fields and fields. The wind in Kansas. The mountains in Colorado. My temple against the window, eyes anywhere but here. I-10 into Los Angeles, the traffic and smog, I was shaking my head, my heart was breaking. M had long grown impatient with my resistance. We unloaded the truck in under an hour, everything into my father's garage. It had taken us two days in New York, up and down the five flights, boxes and lamps and blankets, the stifling summer heat. My Dad took us out for steaks that first night here. We drank martinis and toasted to our new city. The liquor was bitter in my mouth.
We lived in my Dad's condo in Orange County for two months while we looked for an apartment. Everyday we searched Craig's List, drove the long drive up the 605 to the 101, exited on Franklin, walked through apartment after apartment. We finally found an amazing place on Ivar Hill, just across the street from the Alto Nido which is featured in the opening shot of Sunset Blvd. Our place was in a building rumored to have been Douglas Fairbanks Jr.'s guesthouse. It was gorgeous and strange with French windows and hardwood floors, great columns into the living room, a fireplace, and a wide, wonderful kitchen.
There was a beautiful tree outside the kitchen windows which produced fat, waxy, yellow flowers that lit the air with a soft fragrance. I sat out on the backsteps at night, smoking a cigarette, a bottle of beer on the railing next to me, condensation bleeding into the wood. The view led down into Hollywood, palm trees and the Capitol Records building, Sunset Boulevard and the soft spreading out of Los Angeles.
Life in LA, I thought to myself. It was strange and beautiful, quiet and clear, even the haze thinning into something simple that I could understand. And the light. There is a light in Southern California that I have never seen anywhere else. A light that comes off the ocean and settles down over the basin of the city. It's a light I can't even describe. It's a breath, a glance, white-blue and temperate.
And after he died, after I had moved out of that beautiful apartment on Ivar Hill, after I was tied to no one, all my things already in boxes, after it would have been so easy to move back to New York, to friends and a life that had not quite dissipated, after all of that, I moved to Venice Beach.
I found this little apartment on the canals. Windows facing every direction and plants breathing softly in the nighttime kitchen darkness, the hum of the refrigerator, and a passing car on Pacific Avenue.