BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME.


RELOCATION  isn’t just about the physical exertion of packing, and unpacking,  I’m learning this as I swirl onto the 10 Freeway in a cavernous flow of luxury automobiles headed west from downtown LA. Self-doubt is not an option driving the freeway, you have to be a lioness or a cougar, imagine me more like an indoor cat going outside for the first time.  On the 4th of July my transport from Santa Fe, NM to the city of Angels, ended in the late afternoon as I pulled up in front of a new place to call home.   Fireworks beginning, palm trees rippling, dogs barking, and sirens escalating, all a safe distance from my front door.  Noise in Santa Fe is Church Bells, bad-ass guys on motorcycles and an occasional siren. First step to ‘when in LA,’ block out the noise or turn up your head set-by the way everyone is strapped to a headphone. I noticed this phenomena on the few trips I’d made to LA while deciding if I should move back after twenty-five years.   20180704_140814(1)

As I entered the 1940s period bungalow for the first time all was very familiar. Thirty five years ago I lived in the same compound. Mine was across the common garden area, but the floor plan is the same with a built-in vanity, windows on every wall but one,  fireplace, and a small kitchen. It’s like a doll house, four-hundred square feet. The landlord  delivered a newness to it with  freshly painted walls, polished wood floors, and a spotless kitchen and bathroom. I set my luggage down, took a shower and bounced. 

 

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I headed for Westwood Village, where I spent years eight through thirteen.  I remember the Dog House, Mario’s, Fedway, Capezio, Bullocks and Desmonds where I worked one summer in Women’s Apparel. The best of all was Ships. My gang used to go there for breakfast in our pajamas to celebrate one of our birthdays. The Village is so close to  my defining history, why I ended up there and why I left. We lived on Hilgard in what was then called the The Hilgard House, a microcosm of modern living in a new hi-rise with a pool. It was like living with a family; unguarded neighbors that knew my name, a Fred McMurray type Building Manager, a few famous actress’s, and me, one of four or five blossoming teenagers.

I drove past the renovated building now condominiums renting for seventeen times what I expect my mother paid in 1962. The neighborhood hasn’t been gentrified! It is still  a quaint collection of Mediterranean and Mission style homes and four-flex’s.

I stopped in front of the second Hamburger Hamlet location, now Skylight.  It took about five minutes to decide I’m going to love this first experience in Los Angeles.  On the 4th the restaurant was empty, the room exposed and free of human camouflage. The brick walls remained, giving off some whiff of history and the rest of the room was finished in youthful coziness.  Coming from Santa Fe, a city of minor extravagances, the two mirrored lit up bars, stacked with more choices of liquor than what I know existed is my focal point.

” Hi, how you doing? Do you know what you’d like to drink?”

” Well looking at the selection, what do you suggest?”

” What do you like?”

” Wine, white wine by the glass.”

“That’s easy.”

They don’t have as many wines as they do Bourbons, so I ordered Sonoma Cutrer and a seafood pasta dish.

” I grew up here, right here in the village.”

“No way, that’s cool. I’ve met a few guests who lived here a long time ago and they tell me stories.”

” What happened to Westwood? Last time I was here, around the late nineties, it was really depreciated and unkept.  It looks better now, but not completed you know?”

” Yeah, Westwood went through some really hard times. We opened this a few years ago, and now more restaurants are coming in.”

” So you’re busy during the week?”

” Oh yeah, we get a lot of businessmen, and some students, you should come back and check it out”

” I will, it has an openness about it, room to move.”

I was the only customer until the staff’s friends showed up to have a party of their own. The high-kickers in mini shorts, and skimpy tops, they were cute, like cut-outs from a magazine.  I’d been on the road all day, and skipped the meals, so when the seafood pasta arrived, not only was the dish plentiful, it was deliciously fresh and spicy.

After dinner, I strolled along Westwood Boulevard, in a cube of surrealism, the homeless man hunched over his life remains in garbage bags, a Security Guard in front of an abandoned storefront, students striding along as their phones lead them,  What happened to Westwood? Why are the store displays bland and conventional, street art,  vendors and performers absent? The unmistakable sense of abandonment piqued my curiosity so I drove around the neighborhood, simmering in the memories of my gang.  What a utopian place to go through puberty; the College boys spilled out after classes and we waited to see them, on Saturdays we’d meet at the UCLA cafeteria and test our flirting finesse.  We spread out on skateboards along Weyburn and Westwood Boulevard flexing our budding egos and breasts. They are the flagship years of my life, maybe that’s why I came home, to flex my bruised ego and budding independence.

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When I laid my body down on a blanket, with fireworks as my backdrop, it was like a celebratory musical overture to a new beginning. The painfully hard wood floor slapped the idiocy of not bringing foam or a sleeping bag. I’ll buy a bed tomorrow and my furniture will arrive Friday. The first night faraway from my La Posada de Santa Fe Hotel family, friends, my old Discovery SUV, my house, my cat, and my best friend who initiated the change is not in my head! To be continued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART TWO CANDLES OF THE MOUNTAIN


ADVENTURES IN LIVINGESS-20140713_205128MALIBU

The next morning Chantal was not in her transparently privatized bedroom with a gauzy drape.  From the kitchen I’d poured a cup of black as beans espresso from Chantal’s Turkish coffee maker and dozily slumped into a swinging love seat on the lanai. Still in my pajamas,  listless as a floating cotton willow; the grounding I’d felt the day before had evaporated. Looking and listening to birds, rooster, and distant horses, all within a misty silhouette that filled in the hips of the mountains. Beyond the sea, the imagery of my reclusive life in Santa Fe manifested. The skin I wore in Santa Fe; unreasoningly introverted with a coating of protection flaked off and a news skin surfaced.
Just as the image is crystallizing, I sense Chantal crossing the garden towards me.
“ LouLou—are you okay?”
“ I’m not living right at all, ” I uttered without a smile.
She sat down beside me, placed her cell phone behind her, rested her elbows on her knees and leaned toward me to look in my eyes.
“ Oh why? You are not happy in Santa Fe?”
“ Not anymore-I see things differently now.”
“ Yes, this is what happens when we take vacation. If you’re life is not full then you must change it. It’s not always the place that matters, but how you live. You know some people like to suffer, this is not you. I know– believe me. I meet people from all over the world.  I traveled with Carl everywhere.”
“Well  I’m full now– but I’ve been in a cage.”
“ This is not good! I will tell you that since Carl died I too wanted to live in my bedroom and not even get out of our bed. So I worked day and night to keep his legacy going, and to manage the vacation rentals. I made myself so busy just to get through the pain. I was a mess; many times I didn’t think I’d get through it. But you see–I am okay now. I still think of him everyday and some days are rough; but this is life. We don’t know what will happen. You have to live now. When you die no one remembers you; they go on living. “She opened her mouth and her smile asked me to smile with her.
“ We will have a lot of fun you and I. You know I feel like we’ve known each other. You feel that too?”
“ Yes! I think my choice to come here was to meet you.”
“ Oooh lala-then we begin to enjoy. You hungry? I make some breakfast and then we go to Trader Joes. I make a party tonight. How’s that?”
“ I’d like that.”
“ You want some eggs–how do you like them?”
“ I’m so full of joy I have no appetite.”
She threw her head back, and laughed.
“ What time is it Chantal?”
“ It’s eleven o’clock. You sleep very late.”
“ No.  I never sleep this late.”

I followed Chantal into the kitchen where she was leaning against the stove frying eggs; she was on her cell phone.  ‘Cheri, you come tonight for dinner and meet my new friend LouLou.’  Then another call and another. To observe Chantal is to see the openness of a human being without hesitation, restraint or obsession. I followed her around for the rest of the day just like Kou-Koui; her little Habanese dog. Chantal’s  enthusiasm for the approaching party was seamless. As we shopped at Trader Joes, she chatted with customers, the grocery clerk, and the cell phone that rings continuously.

“ LouLou, is that you?”
I was passing her bedroom as she called me in and patted the bed for me to sit.
“Have you had a shower? I will take one after you. I marinated the chicken and meat, so all we have now is the salad.”

In the kitchen she is dressed in a skirt, neck-less blouse, and a magenta flower behind one ear. As  she demonstrates how to cut the cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado,  she darts from one skillet  to another. The music is ruminating through the house; a French wave of seduction and rhythm that entices us to dance around  the kitchen island.  I feel like a young girl learning to be a woman. She is only a few years older than me; yet  her human connection of livingness  is unbridged and unchained.

I intended to write a travel story about Malibu;  as you see the travel story is Chantal.

Travel Bloggers Set my Sails.


JEWISHCUBA.ORG
JEWISHCUBA.ORG

I’ve been staying in a hotel during a short interim while my house is rented. It is not the most profitable venture, but it does bring some extra cash into my pocket.

{Photo credit http://www.JewishCuba.org}

While I am in the hotel observing guests; their mannerism, conversations, and facial expressions, I have come to the conclusion we are not only on a fiscal cliff we are on a sinking shore of wet sand. I do not see these guests who’ve come for Spring break and skiing, lapping up the Southwest serenity. I see glum faces and sluggish bodies weighted down by heavy tote bags, and they seem to shuffle like the very old or weak, from the pathway to the lobby. I am not excluded; by the time I checked into the hotel, my body was withered from house work and preparation. All I wanted to do was sink into a bed and hang the Do Not Disturb notice on the door. Why has our vitality sunk into the sand? Are we suffering from too much information, too many alerts, too many scandals, too much uncertainty that the adventure in livingness has turned into misadventures.

In reading the WordPress posts, I’ve discovered the Travel blogs are the ones that revive my interest in the world I haven’t seen. These are the ones I read because they strike my flame for travel instead of of comfort and complacency. Cuba has been stirring in my imagination ever since I discovered Cuban Salsa, about twenty-five years ago! Thanks to you travel bloggers, I made the decision. This is the year for CUBA. Now that it’s written, I must follow my word.

ROAMING TO THE UNKNOWN


When I look beyond the quarry of my own chains and tough rowing as a writer, to that glorious painting that transforms every day, as if the sky was a Puccini scarf; of fuchsia, tangerine and turquoise, my soul is nourished.

Santa Fe is star power, and can shower your life with photographic moments on the half-hour. Like any city, village, or town you have some culture to conform to, or else you won’t be taken seriously.
In Los Angeles, I learned you have to be able to put on slapstick phoniness to get a conversation going with a stranger. Here in Santa Fe, amongst us Anglos, the advantages come if you are believably bohemian, liberal, quietly subsidized comfortably retired and artistic.

I don’t score well, and my direction is following Lawrence Durrell, Spirit of the Place, and living where you would never expect to live. I wish I could control my impractical, impulsive and annoying spirit of adventure. I think about cities of high rises and Jewish deli’s, at least five movie theaters built in the early 30’s, and neighborhoods of discovery. I just can’t give up the comfort of cocooning with humanity.

I long for the city, just as when I was thirty, all I ever talked about was SANTA FE. I lead a confusing life.

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