Monday, October 01, 2007

Weekend in L.A.

Andrew and I spent this weekend in L.A., and, contrary to my expectations, I really liked it. It’s a giant—in our few short days there, we didn’t even begin to crack the surface—but the little we did see showed that my preconceptions about L.A. were wrong. Far from being filled with would-be celebrities, cookie-cutter model-types, and intimidation, the city seemed fun and eclectic, full of all the usual urban suspects—tourists, hipsters, families, creative types. I’m not sold on the idea of living in L.A.—the driving, clearly, is a deterrent. But from the passenger seat, there was very little not to like.

Andrew had a business meeting Friday morning in Beverly Hills, so I set out to do a little window-shopping and people-watching on and around Rodeo Drive. It was a good introduction, made pleasant by a stop in a café for coffee and a croissant, a soccer match on the TV above the counter. (The stop was made even more pleasant when I was able to nip into the restroom to remove, and then reinsert, my contact lens, which had been bothering me all morning because, I finally realized, I’d put it in inside-out—oh, the joys of being a contact lens novice. Needless to say, I was not, blinking and grimacing as I was, ready for my close-up.)

In the afternoon, Andrew and I had lunch at Kate Mantalini, where we sat in a high-backed window booth and ate sandwiches. I felt like we should be discussing a movie deal; instead, we continued hashing out our Wyndham timeshare-sales-pitch nightmare.

Later that night, we had dinner at El Coyote, a fun Mexican restaurant Andrew had been to before with some friends from L.A. As we ate, drank some very strong margaritas, and ranted a bit more about Wyndham, the restaurant erupted in cheers and applause—we looked over and saw a man down on one knee, proposing to his very surprised girlfriend amidst some very surprised friends.

Saturday—culture. Culture! We spent the afternoon at the Getty, taking in the beautiful complex, the gardens, and the wonderful collection. Then it was off to the Walk of Fame and Hollywood Boulevard for some lower-brow culture. We saw the Hollywood letters in the distance, had a hot dog, browsed in a couple of vintage stores. We found Frank Sinatra’s handprints in front of Mann’s Chinese Theatre and dodged a large number of people in elaborate costumes.

We headed to Little Ethiopia for a dinner of vegetarian and meat stews, reveling in our delicious meal and wondering whether we’ll find anything at all like this when we move into Sacramento. Somehow, as we ate, I felt more comfortable in L.A. than I have in Citrus Heights all these months—something about being back in a big city, I suppose, that feels like home.

Sunday, we explored the Farmers’ Market, where we had bagel sandwiches at a little deli counter, then went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for yet more soul-nourishing art-browsing. A stroll down Melrose Boulevard finished off our L.A. weekend.

I was surprised to like L.A. as much as I did—and since it’s only an hour-long flight to get there, we’ll definitely go back. Little excursions like these help make living here more than just tolerable; these are truly fun and interesting places that are, for now, within easy reach.

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