We came up with the idea for the trip on a whim - a celebration of Sarah graduating from college and a last hoorah before she starts her new job. The flights were an amazing gift from a family friend.
My flight to L.A. was so early I almost missed it. Sarah flew from Atlanta and I flew from St. Louis.
Our first night there I wrote in my journal, "Everything here is either aesthetic or dirty." While I was writing in my journal, Sarah got out of the shower and said she wanted to write in her journal, too, so she did. I love when she copies me. It's something she did when we were children, but now that we're older she always knows what she thinks, and I almost never know what I think.
There were flowers everywhere. The city seemed expensive but not ostentatious. The houses were small, the clothes were either:
vintage Levi's and linen, or
identifiable brands like a Kardashian (Adidas pants and Gucci slides, ugly sneakers and a visor and a $6,000 bag), or
blue hair and skinny legs in fishnets.
At one restaurant, where we ate the best tacos I have ever had, we sat at a table next to a very old white woman with rainbow box braids.
I saw, on a bulletin board while waiting in line for the bathroom at a cafe, a flyer that said "Free Acting Classes." At the top, in much smaller font, it said "Scientology Celebrity Center." One morning, my avocado toast was garnished with tiny purple flowers.
We went to the beach and dragged our suitcases out onto the sand and lay in the sun. There were lots of families, picking their way awkwardly along in the soft sand, weighed down with umbrellas and beach toys and coolers. Most people were wearing clothes - just there to enjoy the sun. There were people selling mango slices. There were "veterans for peace" at a booth on the boardwalk, showing passerby pictures of their friends who had died in war. Next to us was a woman selling umbrellas, beach chairs, and sodas, while her teenage daughter lay on a towel, reading a thick novel for school.
While we were on the beach, I wrote in my journal, "I'm at a new time in my life -- I want to write about this more than I'll do now -- where proximity to fame doesn't depress me or fill me with the worst longing. I understand how to live my own life, now, and see that singular light -- the constant change of it, the ebb and flow, the choices and happenings -- in other people. Their life is not desperate striving, hopelessness, obscurity. Their life is their own. You have to love the work. That's your focus, forever. To love the work is to be saved, in everything. The work is all of it, and everything else is a gift, to be savored and marveled at, or to be endured, but never really lasting or belonging to you. Does that make sense? I don't know."
I was thinking of a Taylor Swift concert I went to as a teenager in a packed arena. At one point, Taylor Swift came down into the crowd and walked very close to us. One of my friends touched her blonde curls and said they were hard as plastic with hairspray. Another friend touched her arm and said it had lots of little bumps on it. I was so unsettled by this - we had looked directly into the artifice we were supposed to avoid seeing. There was no way to stop being regular.
I read almost an entire book on the plane on the way to L.A. It was Motherhood, by Sheila Heti, who is my favorite writer. It begins: "I often beheld the world at a great distance, or I didn't behold it at all. At every moment, birds passed by overhead that I did not see, clouds and bees, the rustling of breezes, the sun on my flesh. I lived only in the greyish, insensate world of my mind, where I tried to reason everything out and came to no conclusions."
In Venice Beach I bought Sarah and I each a small chunk of rose quartz, which is a pink crystal for familial, romantic, and self-love, for $2.50. Now I have it on my bedside table.
We took a double-decker tour bus around the city and got off at all the wrong parts. We saw a pair of ass-less bicycle shorts displayed on a mannequin outside a clothing store and talked in great depth about the purpose of those. I wish, now, that I had taken a picture of them to include with this blog post.
We bought a lot of clothes at Zara, tried and failed to get facials, get manicures, and get massages. (No appointments.) We went on a hike and commented on every dog we saw, and we talked about how this was a time in our lives to work hard.