I finished up my time on the Pacific Coast Highway driving through Malibu and ended up in Santa Monica. There, I found Christy, a friend from my abroad program in Barcelona. We immediately jumped into a multi-hour attempt to catch each other up on the last few years of our lives. It’s funny, I have been having quite a few of those conversations and you might think I have a pretty good speech memorized at this point, but they always go off in different directions. Every conversation focuses on different parts of our lives. After unloading some of my stuff, we decided to run a few errands while we talked and eventually ended up on the beach for sunset. Nate, Christy’s boyfriend, eventually joined us on the stroll and beach gymnastics. I eventually ended up rolling around in some weird metal wheel contraption… Only on Venice Beach. Heading back to the house, we connected with Hillary, Christy’s roommate, and cooked up some stellar vegan nachos. What a way to kick off my time in Los Angeles!
Over the next few days, I spent some time getting to know Los Angeles. I ran along Muscle Beach and worked out with that crew for an hour or so. Christy introduced me to a few more of her friends. I got my airbag fixed. I strolled around Echo Lake and scored some delicious vegan eats with Kate, a fellow traveler who I crossed paths with in Guatemala. One night, Christy, Nate, Hillary and I went to a LA Unplugged event where we had to turn our phones in before we gained admittance. Phoneless, we spent the night writing letters, face painting, meeting new people, and playing all kinds of games. We also explored one of Malibu’s beaches, clowning around on the sands and marveling at the ocean’s many critters. It was quite a weekend!
I spent the next four days with my mom in Death Valley, a story that I will tell in great detail in the next few posts. Afterwards, we returned to Los Angeles for a day of sightseeing. Since Harry Potter Land didn’t open until April 7th, we settled for a walk along an epic mural painted for the Los Angeles Olympics of 1983. We then headed down to Santa Monica to check out the shops and grab some more delicious vegan food including a scrumptious date shake. Finally, we headed to the Arclight on Sunset Boulevard to catch a double feature: Deadpool and Eye in the Sky. The movies couldn’t have been more different, but both are worth seeing for their own reasons. Afterwards, I dropped her off at the airport for her flight home. It was a whirlwind of a trip, but I will definitely share more soon!
With my mom gone, I headed back to my home base and spent the next few days working and wandering with Hillary. Serendipitously, I also got to spend time with one of my Apogee students while she was back in town on spring break. Such a treat!
All in all, I think that living in LA would be a real struggle for me. The lack of winter is a real let down, even if the 70 degree mid-March temperatures felt glorious. As a city, LA feels endless, stretching off in every direction as far as the eye can see. The concrete labyrinth and slow, constant pulse of traffic feel almost prison-like, discouraging escape to the mountains just beyond the city limits. That said, I have realized that the people I meet shape my impression of any city however large or small. Obviously the overall culture of a city like Los Angeles or Seattle is important, but that is always accessed through direct interaction with its inhabitants. In LA, I spent time with some truly amazing people, people who I truly connected with. In a city that is often attacked for its superficiality those connections felt like a major win. Sure, that superficiality isn’t hard to find, but you can always work around it if you want to. So for anyone who shared part of their city or part of themselves with me during my visit, thank you for making Los Angeles come alive for me in ways that I never would have expected.