The streets of Beverly Hills, unlike the streets of the Hollywood Hills, were nearly empty. One morning I saw a woman of about seventy, with the poise and stance of a dancer, shining long silver hair side-parted like Veronica Lake — probably just as it had been when she was a teenager in the forties — wearing surfing jams, Vans, and a moth eaten angora sweater; walking her very large, very shaggy, dogs. It was an hour later when I started seeing more humans, as opposed to, say, squirrels.
These humans were mostly getting into cars, looking distracted, toting insulated cups to balance in the console of their upscale autos. I infinitely preferred the stately solitary walker with her dogs. The more I walked, the more I became aware of the scents of an inhabited morning; frying bacon, the whiff of the first cigarette of the day, brewing coffee. The more I walked the more I noticed a rhythm of greeting after the first nearly silent hour. There was the elderly Iranian gentleman who spoke no English out for a constitutional who touched his cap, the joggers, faces slick with perspiration who would smile and nod, the people meandering after their sniffing dogs who would say a surprised hello at seeing me (as if I had stumbled into their living room, instead of come across them moseying down the sidewalk). Especially notable were the beaming bottle blondes in their fifties, sporting pastel tracksuits and full makeup singing out, “Good morning!” a legion of peppy Doris Days. I began to feel more a part of the city, my street, my neighborhood, and started putting together faces and houses. Fifteen years in Los Angeles and what made me feel connected here, finally, wasn’t my job, or my family, or even my friends — what made me feel connected were strangers, happy to be alive and outside on another sunny California day, just like generations before them, and generations to come.
And then I left. I got on a plane one night at LAX with Darla and we arrived at Heathrow in London sometime after lunch.