Monday, May 24, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 142

Taken: May 22, 2010, noon
Location: Healdsburg, Ca.

Yes, I know, another vineyard and sky image. But look at those clouds. How could I not take this one?
Life, once again, seems to be filling my days with too much to do and too little time to do it. I've been trying to stay abreast of this, but I can't seem to keep up. Tonight, I'm putting up three days of posts. So there won't be much writing.
As you can see from the image, we've had a lot of weather. It's been an odd month of May, with days on end where the sun and the clouds seem in a constant battle for supremacy. I've seen two rainbows this month and twice, have driven through a pouring rain one moment that turns to sunshine minutes later. I don't want to make too much of it, but it's hard not to believe in global warming plan you experience such rapid-fire changes in the weather.
It's not that I don't like it. Believe me, after more than a decade in Los Angeles, a change in the weather within even a five-day period is welcome. Down in LA, anything besides sunny and 70 degrees is just weird.
But even saying that, I'm ready for summer. I want to sit on my porch and look out on the view and feel the warmth of the sun on my face. I don't want to be cold at night, not at least until late September when the hot weather will be what gets on my nerves.
I love describing weather and of course, finding a way to link it emotionally or psychologically to whatever it is I'm writing. It's a great way to set certain kinds of scenes as well. But I don't check the weather daily and I'm often surprised when I wake up and it's raining.
And as much as I like a little change in the seasons, I don't think there's anything that could get me to move back to the East Coast, or any place that has real winters. Hell, I love snow but the slush and slippery ice, the brutal cold and chilly winds -- you can keep all that stuff. I want nothing to do with it.
When I moved out to Los Angeles, my father told me that he was sure I would return to the East Coast within two years, three tops. He had been out in Southern California when he served in the Navy in the 1950s, and like any experience that happens to you when you're young, it left an indelible impression on him. That impression wasn't a good one. A born and bred New Yorker, my father didn't quite understand the West Coast temperament. I think it felt too new to him, too much like it was temporary.
This is a rap that has dogged Los Angeles even as it has grown into a relative middle age. Like any cliché, it is not entirely untrue. Certainly when my father was there, it undoubtedly felt a lot more like the reality. He has only been out there I think two more times, both of them to visit me. I'm here to report that it did not change his opinion. My one regret is for the first time they arrived. I didn't know Los Angeles as well as I would come to know it and I wasn't sure yet how the relationship would turn out.
When I first arrived, I immediately started a job that put me on the road for most of the next 2 1/2 years. I hardly had a chance to stop and get to know my neighborhood, much less the city itself. A combination of factors, including, ironically, the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, forced me to discover the the City of Angels and began what has been an uninterrupted love affair.
When the 10 Freeway went down during the quake, it forced many of us who relied on what was one of the busiest freeways in the country, to take surface streets. Up to that point, I was so concerned about getting where I needed to go for work -- and I was working seven days a week -- that I didn't bother veering off the freeway or learning shortcuts. My days off were spent catching up on sleep and TV and reading, I had very few friends outside of work and not much time to spend looking for any. Suddenly, I was having to learn how to navigate all these streets I'd seen only as signs on the freeway. It changed everything I knew and everything I thought I knew about LA.
I am sure everyone who moves to a new place has this same experience, one way or another. And eventually they get to the point where I finally did when you can close your eyes, and see the once complicated seeming grid of streets and buildings and skylines and know exactly where most everything is -- more or less.
But when my parents arrived, my knowledge of LA wasn't that much more than your typical tourist.  I didn't really know where to take them or where to eat or even the best way to get there. And while I covered a little bit of my Los Angeles on their second trip, which was in the early part of the last decade, I was a different person then. I was living with someone, we'd bought a house, got a dog. It wasn't the same LA I'd discovered as a single working woman, unattached, free to roam.
I think there's only one time in your life when you fall in love for a place and a friend or parent or a sibling will come to visit and you are in that perfect mode to share what makes it magical for you. With LA and my parents, I think I blew it.
Had my parents come to visit me a year or two after Northridge, I would have shown them the Los Angeles of my dreams, the one I came to write about in my novels, the place that will occupy a little room in my heart forever. I believe I may even have won over my father, if only a little. I would have totally done it different that's for sure.
Even so, I know they understand a little because my Los Angeles is also in the pages of my novels, at least I hope it is. Of course, for my father to admit that he was wrong about me, is something else entirely. It's been a bit longer than three years since I've moved out to California and I'm sure he knows by now, I ain't going back. 
I will always be a New Yorker, but I'm now a Californian too. And I'm totally okay with that. I know he is too.

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