Vickie Lester gets homesick for Hollywood, and then again…

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It was inevitable. I miss the light. The bold, constant, dazzling light. I understand now to the core of my being why Cecil B. and my ancestors made the move, and why there’s no place like it to make movies — anywhere you turn, all you have to do is line up the shot and the sun does the rest.

Yet, it’s so soothing here, everywhere I look there’s leafy green and rosy brick, and these past few days soft grey skies. There are, of course, conflicting attributes to water in the air; the crepe in my neck is lessened but my hair has turned into a large and unmanageable shrub. Too much information? We’ll go back to generalizations.

Boston is a pedestrian friendly city, Los Angeles is not, but then the greater metropolitan area of L.A. encompasses 503 square miles.

Los Angeles is a city where you can live in a neighborhood for twenty years and never get to know the people around you. You get to recognize their cars, but don’t expect a conversation that extends beyond, “Hi.” In Boston? Just not possible. Because of the density, your home extends to your stoop, your street, and where you ramble every day. People in Boston engage, sometimes Los Angelenos can be a little aloof.

In a sidewalk cafe here, a young man told me (as he ate his chopped fruit) that he was a little grumpy because his wife had him on a ten day cleanse. Two gentlemen in their late twenties were loading up their SUV on the street as I walked by and one said to the other, “I can’t fucking believe it, did you tell him what time?” And then one shot a look to the other, and the other clapped his hand over his mouth when he spotted me and continued, “Pardon me, I’m so sorry!” I assured him that it was okay, and I had heard that kind of language before. I don’t know why, but that struck me as charming. Nobody apologizes for saying the “f” word in L.A. Another thing that men don’t do in Los Angeles is open doors. The very first morning I was here, as I was getting my requisite caffeine, a man in front of me on the way to Starbucks stepped aside, held open the door, and insisted I step in front of him in line.

A mother walking her kid to kindergarten tells me that every day is like setting out for the first time, as her boy dawdles and explores on his way to school. The just-out-of-her-teens clerk at the market confided that in comparison to Isabella Stewart Gardner, she feels she hasn’t done enough with her life. I had to suppress the urge to hug her and tell her she still had tons of time. And today as I turned the corner for home and glanced down the bumpy red brick sidewalk I spied a seven year-old girl on a pink bike with training wheels, blonde curls under a helmet, pedaling along as Mom walked behind. I commented, “What a beautiful bicycle!” The girl beamed and replied, “Thank you, very much!”

Such nice old-world etiquette…

Maybe we’ll retire here.

From Boston with love, V

14 comments

  1. erickeyswriter

    It can be an intoxicating city, yes? A weird study in contrasts, certainly. I get a pang in my heart when I hear about other people getting to visit.

    And now I am moving farther! Headed to Dallas, TX soon.

    • There’s a park on Beacon Hill that’s packed with toddler’s toys, the kind you ride and that resemble cartoon animals and trains. I imagine it’s a park with a key, because the toys are legion and don’t look like they go back to the very buttoned up houses. Then there’s the methadone clinic I drive past, and those suffering who shuffle into the street looking for change. Warms your heart, breaks your heart; Boston.

  2. That first paragraph captured precisely why I love visiting Los Angeles so much and feel so alive when I when I’m there. I have told friends I just love waking up here and walking out the door to enjoy the city. Can’t explain it any better….And we have plenty of sunshine here in Texas…but it is a different light that captures my heart.

    • And in the autumn through the winter there is the golden hour and the first moments of darkness when the sky is an intense blue and the windows start to glow — I know that sweep of beauty you’re talking about — there are those times you just want to etch in your memory forever.

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