A whirl wind trip to LA. John and I fly down at 6am on Saturday morning. Before we even get to drop our bags off at his folks’ home, we have looked at two apartments. One in Los Feliz, another down near Koreatown. One is cute, but too small; the other grand, with a sketchy management firm. Both are too far from everyone we know. Who do we know? Do we know anyone? I feel fully dizzy and the polar opposite of grounded. We swing over to John’s folks’ place in Altadena, say hey to his sister who we are officially in town to celebrate — she’s just turned 30. We have light drinks, walk Hex, and then jet back down to Westlake to look at another place. Huge, incredible architecture from the early 20s, in a wreck of a neighborhood, and a potential nightmare to maintain. I cannot get over this one towering window in the entryway: two stories, multi-pane, french-door style, opening inward. All I can picturing is my climbing monstera and passion vine up and over the molding and I am in love, but I know better: there is not a square angle in the whole place.
Westlake, Pico Union, Arlington Heights. These too-precise and unknown names that seem to exist on every internet mapping service and in the mouths of precisely no one. We reference these, we get blank stares, and with comical swiftness we are in a Californians sketch again: it’s south of the 5 but not quite over to Glendale, if you’ve gone past the 101 you’ve gone too far. My eyes glaze over.
Back home we have ribs, chicken, rolls and cake for Em’s birthday. Wine. Beer. Champagne. Fresca. I fall asleep on the couch holding Hex, 10 Things I Hate About You in the background.
We have a miserable sleep in a too-soft memory foam bed in the guest bedroom, and we are up early for the first of 10 more apartment viewings the next morning. My back hurts. I’ve had too much to drink the day before, and worry it’s actually kidney pain. Maybe it is? I’m not sure. It is hot in a way I forgot days could be, and I need water. We zig zag across the city for five hours seeing place after place after place. We put good vibes out and we get them back.
We see potential. We see pitfalls. We see actual pits dug in the floor of the kitchen of one unit: “Before we go in, there are holes in the floor, they’re doing some work, they will NOT be there when you move in.” I assume we’re going to see some pilot holes drilled to fix wiring. Instead they are two 3x3x3’ enormous trenches dug in the floor down to the water main, with corresponding mountains of soil and concrete ejecta in the kitchen next to them taking up roughly 80% of the floor plan. “They will NOT be there when you move in.” As if we’d otherwise have been like “… gosh the location is nice, and a parking spot to boot… I’m just not sure about those gaping cavities in the kitchen, should we ask about that?” We meet property managers named Paizley, Jeizel, and Gwendolyn. We meet a certified so-cal hunk of a realtor with two first names as his whole name, whose pecs look like they’ve never lost a sale. We see an endless parade of kitchen arches, pedestal sinks, open floorplans, dimly-lit bedrooms, and subway tile subway tile subway tile.
We regroup at Pine and Crane. Learning my lesson from last time, I caution us both to order one thing each, as the portions are huge, and maybe a veggie to share (peashoots). We leave uncomfortably and catastrophically full. Waddling. Belching. Naturally, the next stop on our agenda is a house party overlooking a leather kink festival in Silverlake where most of the men, amply muscled and suitably bronze, are wearing nothing but singlets and harnesses. We are both struggling to suck our guts in behind generous t-shirts. This is a mess. This is wonderful. This is a wonderful mess. I’m able to rally, be sparkling for a second, and then before I know it we’re on our way back to Altadena, I’m asleep on the couch with Hex on my chest again, and then it’s time to leave. For me. John stays behind. He is officially an Angeleno again, and I am vagabond back in the bay, in a city that no longer feels like mine, but still feels like home. We’ll see each other again in nine days, hopefully with an apartment to call home, and all my stuff in boxes, ready to go.
This finally feels real.