One year ago today, NovySan and I stumbled off a red-eye flight from Los Angeles into an unseasonably warm, sticky Boston haze, gathered up our luggage, and tried to wrap our jet-lagged brains around the MBTA. Several transfers, bruised shins, and pulled muscles later, we staggered into our summer sublet and fell asleep before we could decide where to eat breakfast.
I don’t think it was ever a secret that I didn’t like Los Angeles, although I don’t think most of my friends ever knew just how miserable I was there. There were things I liked about the city, and people there I loved, but in 10 years, it never felt like home. I wasn’t sure, when I moved here, whether Boston/Cambridge would be home. I’d only visited once, on my way to Viable Paradise. I didn’t make it across the river that time, but walking in the chilly morning fog of the Back Bay, I thought, “I could have a really serious love affair with this city.” And I have.
It’s not an easy thing to put into words, this feeling of belonging. It bubbles over until I have to wear sunglasses on cloudy days, lest strangers on the street see the tears in my eyes. It tempts me to sing on the bridges (which might be allowed), and to hug strangers (which almost certainly wouldn’t). It expresses itself in endless pictures of the sunset from my window (be grateful I don’t share them all) and a desire to involve myself in the life of this place in a way I never did in LA.
Whether we stay here after Dan graduates or not, I will enjoy every moment here.
I’m not homesick any more.
It’s one of the little crested guys in the foreground who keeps saying “Peep! Peep!” He was very insistent. All of his friends were ignoring him.
In two weeks I’ll have a chance to see one of my childhood friends when I travel from Los Angeles back to Glen Ellyn (IL) for my 20-year high school reunion.
I haven’t seen him in 10 years.
Even though over three years ago he moved to Echo Park…which is seven miles from my front door.
I started at the Santa Monica branch of the LA Law Library, in the Santa Monica County Building: (If you’re sitting there saying to yourself, “But that’s not the County Building, that’s City Hall!”, you’d be right. Due to a lack of Creative Commons licensed photos of the County Building on Flickr (something I’ll try to remedy next time I’m down there), I settled for Omar Omar’s very lovely portrait of City Hall. The County Building’s across the street, way over frame right.)
When the Library closed, I walked over to Joe’s Pizza, for a slice of white and a garlic knot. (Okay, three garlic knots, but I swear I only asked for one!) I had to smile along the way, when I passed a construction worker singing opera to himself. “Sometimes,” I thought, “I love the city.”
I was listening to one of Joe’s employees teasing a teenager who’d come in for some pepperoni when a Tweet arrived from NovySan:
“You’re going to the Cat & Fiddle without me?” I whined. “Fine, I’ll go to the King’s Head without you.”
And I did. I treated myself to a pint of Guinness at the bar (sandwiched between a British regular and an American hipster who seemed afraid to sit too close), followed by a 99 Flake at the gift shop. (The ice cream, by the way, was lovely, but the chocolate is nasty, waxy stuff. Not to say I didn’t eat it, of course - it was stuck in my ice cream, after all.)
On the way back to my car, a blond skateboarder crash-landed on the astroturf between me and the curb and laid there grinning at me. “I assume you’re okay,” I said, and he laughed. “I’m fine.” “Not what we would have hoped,” his friends said, and he picked himself and his board up and prepared to tackle the next strip of green plastic. And all of that adds up to one of my favorite days in LA.