It’s been fifteen years since I’ve lived in Los Angeles. More than twice the time I spent making a living and making a life out there in the late ’90s and early ‘aughts.
Husband Tim and I just concluded a quick trip to Southern California, for my great nieces’ birthday celebrations (the elder turns three next week, and the younger turned one last week); and for the younger’s baptism (she does have a name, and it’s Hailey).
Tim and I stayed downtown for the first part of the trip, and I was struck by how much seemed new. During my L.A. days, I lived and worked on the west side, and did not spend much time downtown, so it all might have been new to me. Except for a few tell-tale signs:
- The hotel we stayed in had just opened last year, and I’m pretty sure the high-rise building that housed it was also brand new
- There were a lot of tower cranes downtown
- Either I saw the same cement mixer truck caught in some sort of Möbius loop, or there is a fleet of mixer trucks with the same blue cab deployed all around L.A.
The Original Pantry was right around the corner from our hotel; I at least knew that diner has been around for a while. I remember going there once with friends, just to see what it was all about. I bought a coffee mug, that has been one of my go-to receptacles for go-juice in my own pantry ever since. As Tim and I waited in line to have breakfast Friday morning, I read a plaque on the wall outside, celebrating all the traditions around the place. The thing is, I never had a tradition associated with The Original Pantry. If there was any tradition, it was my friend Christine’s propensity to gather a select group of us willing to try something outside of our routine. I do miss this, and I miss Christine, too.
Since family was the reason for the trip, there wasn’t much time to catch up with old friends. I did see my friend Stacey, who I went to Greece with last fall. She’s been busy since I last saw her, she’d just purchased a home in Hollywood. There was much to catch up on; we got a quick tour of her wonderful new digs before walking to dinner at The Hearth and Hound, a “gastropub” in a spot I used to know as The Cat & Fiddle.
On balance, this trip really was about “new.” Nephew Jerry and Wife Lisa also just purchased a home; I got a tour of it, too (it’s currently gutted down to the studs, they plan to move in this summer). They’re pleased with the location and school district. . .when it comes time for little Madison (the three-year-old) and Hailey to start their schooling, they will be well-situated.
I remember, very distinctly, the reasoning and decision-making behind my choice to leave Los Angeles for New Orleans fifteen years ago. Family was a large part of it, but not the sole reason. Without going too deep, I’ll just say that I knew, on a visceral level—closer to the heart than the head—that my time for life-building in Los Angeles had come to an end. It is a wonderful thing that I am still so close to friends and family who have built vibrant, happy, lives there. I am truly grateful for that.