On one of my first visits to Los Angeles, I crashed with a friend and her boyfriend in their tiny beach shack in Venice. It was cute…but it was far from glamorous.
We were young, we were broke but still…where was the glittering Hollywood of the movies? The pop Los Angeles Randy Newman sang about? We went to Disneyland and drank margaritas and hung out on the boardwalk. All good…but disappointing. Apparently the place I’d been excited to visit only existed in a darkened movie theatre.
One day, when my friend was at work, her boyfriend and I went out to do some errands. I’ve got to stop and pick something up, he said, do you want to come with me? Something about his grandmother’s house. Or maybe it was his step grandmother. I wasn’t really listening. I was leaving in a day or two and my mind was already on what I would do when I got back to New York, to a place that actually was glamorous, not like this city and its endless mini-malls. But I had nothing better to do that day so I said yes.
I got in the car and he drove inland, away from the beach. At first I was bored and then the scenery changed. Here were the palm trees! Here were the wide boulevards! Here were the big houses! Where were we going?
Here we are, he said. He’d stopped at a house with a big gate. There was an intercom and a voice asking who it was and he wound the car up a long driveway. It’ll just be a minute, he said, but I wasn’t staying in the car. Now, I was curious. Who lived in this big house? We stood outside the door, quiet, listening. There was barking and ssshing and then a tiny woman opened the door. Surprisingly tiny, I remembered later. Because of course it seemed like she should have been bigger. Hello he said and she asked us to stay but we couldn’t for some reason.
I don’t remember what else we did that day or where we went or even much else about the rest of that trip. But it doesn’t matter because I’d discovered something that has stayed with me since then: the glamor of Los Angeles is tucked away and hidden.
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