Monday, July 26, 2010

My own personal L.A. Story, Pt. 2

The rest of my vacation was relatively calm compared to how it began. That being said, it was still an eventful week. Even as I write this, two days after returning home, I still feel the pangs of that kind of exhaustion that only comes from total relaxation and breaking away from the chaos of everyday life.

Monday was a very relaxed day; I slept in till about 9 before waking up feeling energized and ready to hit the beach. Sister lives about 3 blocks away from the beach, so I could walk it easily. Even tho I still had the camping funk on me, I opted to forego a shower until I came back from sunning myself. Say what you will, but I was not feeling compelled to expend energy on such mundane tasks as showering when the ocean was beckoning me to its shore!

After a quick coffee and croissant at the local cafe, I hiked the eighth of a mile to the beach, found a spot and laid there for the next three hours, reading and soaking up the sun. Fortunately I had the foresight to pack my SPF 55! In between chapters, I would sit up and look out at the waves crashing against the sand, watching children run in and out of the water. The ocean has always had a pull for me; with the exception of maybe 5 years out of my life, I have always lived within a 2 hour drive of the beach. As I sat there, I did what I often do when gazing at the waves and looked out toward the horizon, letting my mind wander; meditating about life and wondering where...where in the world was he. "He" meaning that one person that is supposed to complete me. Ever since I was a little girl, I've pondered this puzzling question that seems to be without answer. Somehow staring into the ocean prompts me to have these thoughts, wondering where the love of my life he on the other side somewhere, aimlessly wandering the planet, perhaps looking across at me, wondering where I am?

And then I realized I was getting awfully close to sun stroke and decided it was a good idea to head home for a much needed shower and nap! I wanted to be completely refreshed that night to see my friend Chris Dallman, who was performing at the Hotel Cafe in West Hollywood. Sister was home by 7 and we took off for the show, her new boyfriend in tow. We got there right in the nick of time, as Chris was taking the stage. In true form, his performance was stellar! Chris is a natural storyteller and his love of music and self-effacing attitude make him likable and endearing. A handsome man, he's easy on the eyes as well. His husband is a lucky guy! ;)

After Chris' performance, we went outside to say hi and thank him for an awesome show. It was there that we met up with a bunch of folks I had met online. As you know from prior posts, I am an avid Tweeter (Twitterer?) and have made the acquaintance of several "tweeps" from around the world, many of whom were in town for Comic-Con. Although polite and friendly, I was a little put off at how stand-offish some of them appeared to be. There were a couple exceptions, but generally speaking, there just wasnt that same...effervesence... that existed in our online communiques. Stands to reason I suppose...people are generally different online than they are "IRL" (that's cyber-speak for "In Real Life"). Maybe they were just shy.

After attempting to make conversation for a few minutes, we bid the tweeps good evening and safe travels on their way to Comic-Con and headed back into the bar, where Sister, Sister's boyfriend and I polished off a couple beverages before heading to Toi Thai in West Hollywood for some late night nosh. Tasty, but indistinguishable from other Thai food establishments that I so often frequent in Seattle save for the giant papier mache dragon hanging from the ceiling.

The next morning, I got up at the crack of dawn so that I could have use of Cosmo while Sister was at work. We took a shortcut through Laurel Canyon and out the other side to the Valley, where she works as an Assistant Director on a popular NBC series. Her stage was in an industrial section of Van Nuys, surrounded by construction company offices and auto auction places...many of which, she informed me, are covers for porn studios. Apparently "Nights of Neon" is not just a purveyor of fine neon products...

After dropping Sister at her workplace, I made my way back to Playa Del Rey, where I took a little nap before heading out to Mecca: Amoeba Records in Hollywood. A little known fact about me is that I collect vinyl records. Or rather, I've just started to collect vinyl for the first time since I was in high school. A lifelong avid music lover, I have recently accepted the fact that nothing can ever replace the look, feel and sound of real, honest-to-goodness vinyl LPs. I'd been on the hunt for a couple of hard-to-find discs that had eluded me in Seattle. Chris had turned me on to Amoeba Records. I understood from him and from others it was "The Place" for vinyl in L.A. and I was not disappointed. Not only did I manage to locate the albums I was looking for in the first place, I found some other treasures. 7 vinyl LPs and 1 DVD cost me a grand total of $34. And the cashier gave me a bunch of free swag...audiophiles need to stick together!

Soon, it was time to head out and pick up Sister. Not to put too fine a point on it, but L.A. traffic pretty much sucks. I decided to take off around 5PM, figuring that I should make it to her workplace in time to pick her up at 7. Two hours later I was still sitting in the gnarliest traffic I had ever seen on I-405! I gotta tell you....after a week of sitting in L.A. traffic, I will *never* complain about Seattle traffic ever again!

Wednesday was another beach day. It was also the day that I decided the L.A. public transit system had to be a more preferable option to sitting in traffic. After my morning visit to the Church of Neptune, I decided that I would take the bus down the road to Marina del Rey for lunch. It was only 3 miles away...couldnt be that hard, could it? Two buses and an hour later, I arrived at my destination. I should have clued in when I texted Sister about the adventure I was having, and she replied with "if you end up in Compton, text me right away". Too late now...I was already in Marina and needed to find my way back, but not before I had the yummiest burger ever at The Counter. (Note to self - must look into franchise opportunity...)

As it always seems to happen when I ride the bus, I end up engaging in conversation with perfect strangers. In this case, I met a woman about my mother's age, maybe a bit younger, who was coming home from a doctor's appointment. She flopped down on the bench next to me as I was waiting on the "Big Blue Bus" and asked me how my day was going. No sooner did I get the words out that I was having a splendid day, she began to regale me with the tale of her aching back and how she was too nervous to be honest with her doctor about how much pain she was in as she didnt want to have surgery. This led to a drawn out soliloquy of how she couldnt find a job, didnt have a car, may have to move out of her apartment in Playa, hadnt had a date in 23 years and couldnt lose weight to help her back problem because she had to rely on donated canned goods from her church for sustenance - all of which she attributed to her back pain. In spite of this ongoing tale of woe I found her to be completely charming, her smile contagious, and since it turned out we were going the same direction, I stayed close to ensure that I got on the right bus.

As we waited on the second leg of the trip, we sat outside a liquor store. At this point, my "travel buddy" had made several comments about how thirsty and hot she was, but also how she couldnt afford to buy a cold drink as she had no money. I went into the liquor store and purchased a couple bottles of cold water. Handing her one, she was both grateful and overtly thankful. For me, it wasnt a big deal...I've purchased many a bottle of water in my day. She considered it to be a "huge gift" and thanked me again and again. She then continued to confide in me about her life, taking care to ask me questions about my life. She told me how she had considered becoming a nun, and perhaps she would still do so as her options were otherwise limited. She pondered if the local convent would accept her if she couldnt kneel and pray, due to her back problems, but perhaps they would let her sit and pray. I assured her they likely would.

This woman was at once endearing and somewhat captivating, a reminder that even when things are at their worst, life still must go on and one must play whatever hand they are dealt. She got off the bus before me. I bid her farewell, wishing her good luck and watched her hobble up the street as the bus continued to the next stop, which was mine.

I hope she is well...

To be continued...

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