my best friend

IMG_0382

My closest friend in Los Angeles is the GPS lady on my iPhone. For those first few days, I couldn’t get anywhere without her. I clung to her, I relied on her voice, I trusted everything she told me. I was like a young child with a parent on the first day of school– I know if GPS lady wore a skirt, I would bury my face in it, cling to her legs, and beg her not to leave my side. If I missed a turn, went down the wrong boulevard, she never got frustrated. She simply rerouted and got me back on course. Sometimes I found myself wishing she could say more. More than “Turn right on La Cienega.” On long drives, I had her voice to keep me company, but wouldn’t it have been nice if we could laugh together at all those crazy LA drivers? I wished she could give me advice (her voice– albeit automated– is still smooth and authoritative). If she could talk back, I definitely would have teased her for how she pronounces “destination.” She says “des-TOE–nation” and it’s just the cutest little thing ever.

But now I’m beginning week three in Los Angeles and I’m learning my way around a little more. My heart doesn’t leap into my chest every time I pull my car onto the road and I’m not as tentative with directions. I’m trying to push myself to navigate on my own, so I don’t use my GPS as much. But I miss my friend. I miss having her voice by my side as I begin to find a place for myself in this city. We felt like partners in crime; hacking through the LA smog and traffic together, determined to find that damn Trader Joe’s if it killed us, and now. Well, now I kind of feel like the Lone Ranger.

It’s funny– for the last few days, when I have used my GPS, it has been a little out of whack. The visuals are okay, but GPS lady’s voice navigation hasn’t been keeping up with the map. It could be that I need to update both my phone and my Google maps app. Or. Maybe my buddy feels a little abandoned. Maybe this new separation is hard for her, too.

I’m on my way to class and even though I know how to get there, I think I’ll use my GPS to guide me. I like her voice and I like what it reminds me of– new places, new friends, and those unlikely beats of connection that keep you going.

Advertisements

five things i’ve learned, week two

IMG_0214

It’s been two weeks since I arrived in Los Angeles. Two weeks of driving everywhere and being on the lookout for fake boobies and texting home about celebrity sightings and frozen yogurt, lots of frozen yogurt. A few things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. The traffic is absolutely as bad as everyone tells you. You’ll be like me– kinda dubious, a non-believer, you’ll say everyone exaggerates, you’ll figure “How bad can it really get?” And I will tell you “bad.” The traffic can get really bad. Sitting on the same highway behind the same car for two hours bad.
  2. When stuck in said traffic, it is almost impossible not to check your email, send a text message or (as I’ve started doing, and I’m simply teasing the gods, toying with my fate, being really stupid) reading a book underneath the steering wheel.
  3. Los Angeles might not have the restaurants of New York (not yet anyway, though I hear it’s being worked on), but it might still be a city where food lovers come to die. Shrimp tacos, Korean BBQ, fried sushi, kale and strawberry salad, bread pudding muffins, pesto cheese, fried bananas and ice cream, even the movie theater popcorn is amazing. I came out here to get into movies and all that might happen is me turning into a prime number one fatty.
  4. I need to be more patient. That east coast way (and specifically New York) where everything moves really fast and you don’t have to wait in line longer than nineteen seconds and an impatient foot tap lets everyone around you know it’s time to hurry up? Doesn’t work out here. Time to breathe, relax, and ask myself why I’m in such a hurry anyway.
  5. Your first view of the ocean from the Pacific Coast Highway might lodge itself into your memory bank forever and ever and ever. I drove along the PCH on Friday early evening and I was rounding a bend just as the traffic (see?) broke and the water was on my left and my windows were down and the warm air filled my car and the ocean was bigger than America and the coastline was winding up into the sky and it gave me goosebumps.

welcome to los angeles

images

Today is Day 3 in Lala Land and I might as well be in Togo, it feels so very different. Traveling is something I yearn to do, but it does fill me with a weird mix of anxiety and dread. Even when I’m in places that shouldn’t feel so culturally dissimilar (same language, driving on the same side of the road, same crappy pop music on the radio), I have an apprehension that makes the simplest tasks seem impossible. I was so distracted last night, I drove three miles down Santa Monica Blvd with my lights off (I almost caused a frigging accident, and just like a New Yorker, I cursed and hollered at the other car. And when I got home and realized that I had been driving with my lights off, I was filled with so much shame, I could do nothing but sit in my car and gulp). I couldn’t figure out how to operate the parking ticket machine at the Target on La Brea and I damn near cried punching at buttons and trying to find the right change.

My nerves are a little shot. My synapses won’t cooperate.

But I guess this is what it means to go beyond your home for a while. You step out of your known world, and all of sudden every moment feel important, there is a sharpness to your awareness that might be difficult to find in your normal life. As harried as I feel, I have paid attention to every gesture, every sign, every tree, every smile I have come across. And for each hiccup, there’s been something so lovely to counter it. Sushi and beer with Bridget on my first night, a trip to the Grove and a drive through Hancock Park with Lynn, a late-night visit to Canter’s for matzoh ball soup and a potato knish, and later I’m heading to Skylight Books.

Today I’m spending the afternoon in the Beverly Hills library and there is a woman a few feet away who is laughing, roaring actually, at something on the rented computer she is using. The security guard has told her to hush up, other readers have sssshed her, and you can see that she is trying to be quiet. But every few minutes, she watches something that makes her yelp and snort into her hands as she tries to suppress a laugh. She appears to be living on top of all of her energy right now, perfectly keyed in to whatever she’s watching and how happy it makes her. She’ll probably get tossed out of here in the next ten minutes, but maybe it will have been worth it. That’s what I hope to get out of this trip– moments when the joy and excitement trump the fear of what might, maybe, could possibly happen. Even if some city officials in a patrol car pull up alongside my rented sky-blue Hyundai, yank me from my seat, call me a interloper and discharge me back to Brooklyn, I’ll have had my rainy evening alone at Canter’s, eating my knish, sipping my root beer, doing the crossword puzzle, unsure which direction I should drive in to head home.

missing new york

41P8GZTBMTL._SL500_AA300__2I have about 21 days until I head to Los Angeles for a few months (I went to buy a monthly Metrocard a few days ago and realized I didn’t need a 30-day card. I definitely got a little emotional at the Metrocard machine and the guy waiting behind me was definitely like “Keep it moving, sister, cry on the subway.” Oh, New York.)

I’m looking forward to the trip– my west coast to-do list grows each day– but there are those little every day things about New York I will miss.

New York, I miss you already…

  • going to work four nights a week– it’s been six years of slinging beer and serving fries and yelling at drunks, but my coworkers are my second family and sometimes we laugh so hard I start crying and I have to clutch onto something to keep my balance.
  • late night trips to the Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene.
  • getting to see a play once a week– I know Los Angeles has a theater scene, but I’ll miss the New York stage. Before I go, I’m going to try to see Belleville and The Flick  and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
  • reading on the subway
  • taking the Sunday Times to brunch at Sun in Bloom in Park Slope (gluten-free baked goods! wahoo!)
  • my family– they threw me a going away brunch and didn’t make me feel bad for drinking about fifteen glasses of champagne and slurring my words and tearing up when they told me how happy and excited they are for me. They made me give a practice acceptance speech and they are so supportive and my sisters text me daily with words of encouragement and I’ll miss them all being so far away.
  • my little studio apartment
  • getting an ice cream cone on warm days and walking through the West Village
  • my friends– laughing and game night and talking about movies and laughing and car bombs and shrieks about who went home with someone unsavory and laughing and sleeping on the couch and holding new babies and BBQs on rooftops and watching “The Voice” for ten hours straight and laughing and birthday gifts and going away parties and drunk text messages and laughing and laughing and laughing. If I think too much about how much I’ll miss my friends, I’ll be crying and crying and crying.

There’s more, there’s always more to miss, and I am looking forward to the change. But sometimes I also want things to stay exactly the way they are.