Random musings on the oddities of life
How long is a week? Well, it all depends on what we cram into it.
In my seven days in Los Angeles, I had watched a movie being made, stood in the footprints of John Wayne, delivered dresses to massive mansions in Beverly Hills and celebrated Thanksgiving at the Urban Homestead with the amazing Dervaes family who live as self-sufficiently as possible. I had had a haircut from a man who had escaped from behind the Iron Curtain, rubbed shoulders with actors in Hollywood and driven in a car wearing a huge pink moustache (the car, not me!).
Was I ready to leave? Heck, no! But my departure time was looming large. I couldn’t leave LA without tipping my toe into the great Pacific Ocean so Edgar and I drove west, following the lowering sun.
On Ocean Front Walk in the cacophony of people that is Venice Beach, street performers mingle with skaters, people selling CDs of their own music and stalls selling T-shirts and henna tattoos. The wall-high street art is looking faded these days, but there is still the exuberance that comes from being by the seaside, the waft of candy floss mixing with ozone, sun tan lotion with fried food.
Standing on the sand, feeling its coolness between my toes, the contrasts of this city struck me once again: in the distance the San Gabriel mountains, jets buzzing low in and out of the city, the distant highrise of downtown LA and under my feet the swish of the ocean. Surfers are timing their paddles to coincide with a wave coming through. Some manage to ride it to the beach; others disappear in a splosh of spray.
Funny things happen when the sun hits the horizon. The curve of the earth and the density of the atmosphere bend its light and magnify its size and colour as it drops down to the other side of world, its rays beaming out from beyond the horizon, colouring the world pink and orange.
We stand, Edgar and I, side by side watching our shadows lengthen and then turn to watch the sun disappear on our last day together.
We were quiet on the drive home.
The next day, my very last day, I invited Edgar for brunch in the sunshine beside Santa Monica Boulevard, wanting to pretend that afterwards we would just hit the road and deliver more dresses. As we waited for our huevos rancheros (which incidentally the entire world should eat for breakfast), more idiosyncrasies of LA life passed us by: a motorcyclist wearing a WW2 German helmet, buses carrying bikes on racks, beautifully manicured gentlemen walking strangely-shaped rescue mutts in sparkly collars and the coolest convertible VW van.
Back in Edgar’s car, we nattered on, speeding along the freeway to LAX, my bag full to bursting with vitamin tablets, no-aluminium deodorant and Hollywood fridge magnets. We ended up debating which film actresses would endure in the manner of Katherine Hepburn and Shirley McLean. I was pooh-poohing the idea that anyone would remember Charlize Theron or the redhead in The Lost World and Crazy Stupid Love (see, I don’t even remember her name now) in 20 years time, when we pulled up outside the terminal and Edgar was saying goodbye. Our arrival had been so quick and I had been so into my argument that I found myself muttering some banalities and standing on the pavement, watching him drive off.
Dearest Edgar, not the heart-felt goodbye I had intended at all – but an important lesson to me to savour the moments that matter and to know when to shut up and pay attention to what’s important.
The flight was uneventful and we landed to a 3 degree drizzle. A text message told me that my lovely husband had got the time wrong and had left the house just as we touched down, leaving me mull over my Los Angeles experience. Would I be able to afford to go back any time soon? Probably not. But Edgar will make it big and fly me over in his private jet so that’s ok.
And when I looked up, I saw that a little bit of Hollywood pixie dust had clung to me – I was sitting next to Gary Cole, the smooth-voiced Midnight Caller. LA was not quite ready to let go of me just yet…