The summer I dropped out of college I lived with Dad for six months. I’d saved enough to get my own apartment. Calling on a few childhood friends to get together, brought Diane. When I told her I was looking for an apartment, she suggested we roommate a two bedroom. Diane was at USC and my father had complete trust and admiration for her, he loved the idea. When Diane told her Mother, she recalled the story to me on the phone.
She said, “You know her father’s a gangster, you won’t be safe!”
Diane responded, “I’ll be safer with him around!” Her mother conceded.
We found a place on Clark Avenue right off Melrose. Diane brought the living room furniture, a daisy darling sofa and the apartment was transformed. She was in charge of the utilities and made perfect notations on paper of my half. I loved her for that, because she knew I would ignore them! She was teaching me, and cautioned me a few days ahead of the bill date. In my mind, we were opposites that complemented one another. Although, I can’t recall what I taught Diane.
We stayed a year, I moved into Westwood and she got married. Over the last thirty or is it forty years, we find each other. I feel like I’m twenty-five when we’re together. She has a down to earth practical connection to life, where I use abstraction and risk. Those are the ones who make up, our cradle of our friends.
My Cradle of Friends rock my fear,confusion, attitude, confidence, and spirit. Thank you for sharing the storm. I will bring my light back because of you.
- The exhilaration and expectations of stepping out of one grid, of eighty thousand people in Santa Fe, NM to one million people in Los Angeles is something I didn’t really think out, it was more like, I’m going home, to Tara.
Santa Fe slow as a rippling stream manifests when I’m at a yellow light, and I think the driver behind me is going to have a heart attack if he doesn’t get through before it turns red. How serious, overly stimulated, exhausted and determined the Angels of Angeles evolved. Either you are so rich you don’t have time to say hello, or you are struggling with loneliness and can’t wait to say hello. When I lived here in the eighties and early nineties, the vibe felt in social arenas; Hollywood, technology, the arts, and real estate were promising ventures of investment. People in the know were opening shops in ungentrified neighborhoods, warehouse space was scraping the horizon downtown, real estate was affordable, and technology wasn’t the flag we saluted, it was more like we’re in real time paradise.
Century City, very close to my front door, is a memory. My father lived on Century Park East in the last few years of his life. He didn’t like it because it was all concrete, newly built, it didn’t have a history. Now when I drive into the satellite of HIGH RISES, mall music, billboards, shops, and cafes, I know what he means. It is changed, rushing executives, employees, shoppers, a pace that makes one slower feel extradited.
Then the parking, you will need a ticket to park, a parking pass, or you will have to circle the block four times before you find a parking space. The line outside the restaurant is too long, or not long enough, the business of dining here is a mouthful of expectation. The business owner of a shop sells me what I did not come in to buy, and the sales pitch is like a Hollywood script, and I’ don’t know the language. The wait for the Doctor is two months, and that’s if he takes your insurance, which I found out in California has very few Medicare physicians. If someone does speak to you, you can’t hear them because there is so much construction noise, pulsating bass music in surround sound, you find yourself shouting.
Flip the coin. The day after I landed a woman walked up to me and said, ” Oh, you just moved in, I’m Barbara, I’m at 1203 welcome to the neighborhood.”
We walked together with her little Boo dog. She asked questions, and I answered because she was that kind of person you want to talk to, she soothes, applauds, and comforts all in tune with your admissions. The next few days as I awaited my furniture, she glided by, and we continued our life stories, some from the past, some of the moment. My first friend materialized, like a new moon in a new city.
IN LA, because of the immeasurable density, people are always close by, not a foot between us. It’s the life here, it’s not the LA I remember, but it is home. So, like family, I am learning to accept and stay individual.
I feel like a butterfly wing, trying to fly without my twin. Hang on, we have to fly solo. The world feels harsher, the obstacles immense, one wing is better than none.
One winged flight with breath of fright, just a step I have to take to the next destination.
In a week of famous iconic people who’ve committed suicide, my heart breaks and my mind asks, why is everyone shocked? Chronic depression, anxiety, and loss of a life view are not particularly inviting topics of conversation. I know, the last two years of my life these disturbing emotions tried to get a noose around my neck… NO WAY. Enemies cannot win, whether they are in your head your heart or at your doorstep.
The answer is to get involved in someone’s mental decay, agony, and hopelessness is a risk most people are not willing to take. I suggest the simplest of remedies; accessibility by way of phone calls and drop-ins.
Suicides have increased thirty-percent since 1999 and according to Suicide Statistics one hundred and twenty-three each day.
Who do you know that needs attention?
I don’t know at what age reasoning and understanding took over daydreaming, was it in my thirties? No, fifties. No sixties, no; this week. The time of change without my someone to guide me, map out the course, and hold my hand when I take the wrong turn is here.
In a few weeks, I’m leaving Santa Fe, heading west, to Los Angeles, my home that hasn’t been home for twenty five years. This leap of change came about after I decided to leave Santa Fe, where to go was easy, back home for a refresher course in metropolitan living. Some time soon I’ll write about Santa Fe, the land of entrapment. I looked it up on google, its not a tin-pan myth, the force of gravity here is like a wave you can’t swim at your own pace. Nature in New Mexico is the ruler, mankind just passes through. To describe it should be left a mystery. If you feel the draw to Santa Fe, do it, there is a reason.
I wonder if I left a mark. If someone years from now will remember Gallery LouLou, or the Wild West Vacation Home, or just where Rudy and Loulou live. It doesn’t matter does it? I remember.
Packing is also unpacking; everything I did, bought, wrote, or wore is in the house, so as I pack up what to take, I leave behind the collapsed friendships, fortunes of moments inked in my head, like letters that play the past. Four years ago I was ready to leave, maybe longer, a force much more powerful than I, said, no, not yet. Just as the dice lined up, the tables turned against me. I thought I’d lose everything. A year and a half later I’m a few days away from the road trip to Westwood, where I was raised.
When I arrived in Santa Fe in 2007, I felt powerful, focused and determined. Now as I close the door, I feel humbled, like a wild animal whose been fed just enough to keep going. That has not been one of my strongest points as I am constantly pulling out new canvases to caress, and forget to say, thank you for the meal.
The door to relocation propelled me to trade in my car for a convertible coup, sell or give away and now I’m taping up the boxes of Santa Fe memories to take with me to the next adventure in livingness. To be continued.
“YOU NEED A LITTLE MADNESS IN YOUR LIFE.” ZORBA THE GREEK
November 10, 2017
Is it my aging, the world struggling, the politics punishing, the climate destroying, or is it because all of the above feels personal. Every day is a recovery from the disasters, deaths and destruction of the previous day. I can’t decide if my thinking process is changing or the world really is bubbling over the edge of horror. Today the fires in Sonoma hit a personal note; I went to Sonoma State University and lived two years wandering the hills, rivers, towns, farms, and vineyards. I have to remember all the places I lived in: a dorm in Cotati, then Rio Nido along side the Russian River, it was too far to hitch to Sonoma so I moved to Petaluma, then I spent a few months in a hippie house in Glen Ellen and then… I dropped out of college and moved to Mill Valley. Northern California shocked the Beverly Hills plushness off my shoulder and I smothered myself in the outdoors. I used to walk or bike everywhere, I don’t know how I managed without a car. Did you?
My heart and mind turn to the images on the TV news: twenty two fires burning, five hundred unaccounted for and now forty dead.
My family home burnt down in the Bel Air fire on November 5,1961. It rearranged my life as suddenly as it happened, and I discovered growing up wasn’t so bad.
I need a movie to watch that resonates life’s invasive tragedy and triumph; Zorba the Greek. As a young girl that movie moved me in a way so unfamiliar. The writer and Zorba the teacher, the French debutante unzipped, and the widow, whose life was taken because of unreturned passion. Last night, Zorba came to me and said, “You need a little madness in your life.” I listened, and found myself at El Farol on the dance floor. Tuesday Blues Jam used to be a weekly routine. It’s been two years since I went on my own. Dance is always alive in me, moving really fast to great music.
I sat down at the newly restored bar, and looked around, a few familiar faces, and then I looked at the man next to me. He smiled informally, the way someone does when they recognize you. I hadn’t seen Dancing Dennis in years.
” Hi,” he said in a sort of chuckle.
” Do I know you?” I asked.
” Oh Dennis! I didn’t recognize you. You’ve lost weight or something, you look so different.” He chuckled and let me talk.
“How are you? How funny to run into you, I haven’t been here in years.” Dennis and I met on the dance floor at El Farol, and I asked him to marry me! I guess that’s why he just listens to me, he knows I’m a grab bag of surprises. I thanked him for reading my book and writing a beautiful review and then he said,
” I liked your hair short but I like this too. “I don’t recall what I said, but I remember feeling at ease sitting next to him, and trying to recall who he reminded me of, I thought it was Michael Caine, but today I remember, its Oscar Werner, when he played the Captain in Ship of Fools. When the band started I jumped, without even asking Dennis, and darted for the dance floor before it got crowed. I took off like a wild bird and let my Zorba dance. I knew Dennis and I would dance later but I needed to let my madness out.
When I returned to my seat, he looked left out, and so we talked about the past times we danced, and moments later, without any discussion of our personal lives, we danced, and danced and danced. I asked the band to play “Honky Tonk Woman,” and the floor regaled with dancers. Every time I looked at Dennis he was smiling or laughing.
Today I am in a religious mood, not in the sense of Jewish or Catholic, just feeling like I am waiting for God to stop the tragedy.