I’m feeling a little nostalgic for Los Angeles and thought I’d write it out here. See if that would get it all out of my system so I can stay focused on what God is doing here and now in Regina.
I’m not sure what it is about the city that I love so much. It’s been over five years since I’ve been there last. The first place I stayed was in Santa Monica. Just for three weeks. I remember going to the beach and burning my toes in the sand. For the first time, I put my feet in the ocean and felt the waves crash around my calves. When I stepped out of the water, I could still feel the sensation of the waves’ momentum on my legs. How the pressure of the water lingered and impressed a memory into my calfs. During the hot summer months, the homeless people would come to Santa Monica to get some relief from the heat. It was still really hot there, mind you, but the ocean breeze cooled it down a little. I remember thinking how weird it was that Santa Monica was such prime real estate. So many wealthy people lived there and how these massive estates contrasted with the homelessness all around them.
I had rented the place I was staying in Santa Monica for three weeks only before moving to another place in Pasadena. SM was nice. It was bright and breezy but I loved my place in Pasadena. I was renting a room from a woman I met at the church I attended while I was there called Ecclesia. Monica posted an ad on the FB women’s group of the church asking about a roommate. She was always busy with her friends and family. She got married a couple years ago but I met her when she was still single. We often bemoaned our unwanted singleness but if anyone didn’t waste her singleness, it would be Monica. I admired the lifestyle she lived. She worked as a nurse and spent the majority of her evenings with family, friends and was involved with the church.
What are you up to tonight, Monica?
Oh out for drinks with friends. It was so-and-so’s birthday.
What about tonight, Monica?
I’m helping out at church. Getting ______________ ready for Sunday.
How about now, Monica?
Mom’s hosting a baby shower for Blankety-Blank. I’m helping decorate.
She was always so busy! And I admired it about her.
I didn’t have a car and transit — though better than Regina — was still spotty. It would be easier if I just bought a bike to use for groceries and errands. The body was a shimmery pearl and the seat, rims and handles were a pastel pink and green. It’s one of those cute bikes that prop you up so you can work on your posture. I’d bike to get my groceries at Trader Joe’s. I couldn’t shop with a basket or else I’d overbuy and none of my groceries would fit in my bike basket. So I’d gage how much to buy by how much I could carry in my arms. Once it was full I’d go to the checkout and usually, everything fit in nicely. Some of my most memorable groceries were chili-covered dried mangoes and discovering agave nectar. I put it on my oatmeal with butter. It. Was. THE BEST.
Pasadena City College was literally across the street and a church that I once went to when I didn’t feel like travelling the full hour to get to Ecclesia. The building was falling apart but the pastor’s sermons were so filled with grace and truth I barely noticed. When he wasn’t preaching/pastoring, he was building fences — if I remember correctly. I remember admiring him for that. Humble man with integrity and a brilliant mind.
Pasadena is so gorgeous. There’s more trees and green spaces than other parts of LA but also, just the architecture was pretty, too. I’m not a huge interior decorator but I can admire a beautiful home and there were too many to count. When dad came to visit me, we went to this house that was like a tourist attraction but in a off-the-beaten track kinda way. It was known for the Arts and Crafts movement. Not like arts n’ crafts that you do to keep busy but it was something about the style of the house. Kind of like a fusion of Japanese pagoda with American something-rather (I’m sure this is painting a super accurate picture of what this place looked like. Ba ha ha ha!). My uncle does a bunch of wood-working and he suggested we go. I remember being fascinated by the tradesmanship of it. The work, detail, even the importing the did to make this home look amazing was beyond anything I’d ever seen.
My friends and I would meet at least once a week. Ali and Hannah were my closest friends. We’d watch movies, eat junk food, and they’d teach me about Chick-fil-A. Once we went for chicken n’ waffles and saw 50 Cent.
Sometimes Ali and I would sit in prayer for hours. We mostly prayed for our husbands and then our careers. I remember sitting on her couch once trying to figure out what our next writing project would be and we’d sit there squinting, looking super constipated, just waiting for God to give us an image or some kind of direction for a story.
Did you get anything?, I’d say.
I think I see a lime, says Ali.
God gave you a lime? What does that mean? Don’t worry. I’ll google it.
And — I think I see a flag or something.
Oh!!!! Maybe He’s talking about a country. HERE. I think I found it, “Limes are from Mongolia.”… Do you think God wants us to write about limes from Mongolia???
We never got very far with that one (ba ha ha ha ha!) but it didn’t really matter. Ali was like a sister to me. We’d sit up for hours and hours and hours talking and praying and then go to church the next morning. It was on Hollywood Boulevard in an old theatre. They’d serve complimentary coffee. The bums would join us. There was an art gallery on the side that mixed the beauty of the human experience with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I think I cried the first time I saw it. I’ve never seen Christians create art like they did. I’ve never met Christian artists before. I didn’t really know how to be one. My time in LA and studying with Act One (the screenwriting program I was in). Act One didn’t tell me how to be a Christian in the entertainment industry; they just gave me a vision of what it could be. Jesus has been working that out ever since.
In addition to going to workshops and writing groups, I began a film internship. The company was still in Santa Monica and I’d have to commute a couple hours to get there from Pasadena. I had heard horror stories of what it was like to be an intern but the place I was at was very good to me. They were all Christians from different denominations. They treated me so well. Took me out for lunch on my birthday and just made the work environment very comfortable. Most of them liked to work as a team in the board room but I have a hard time concentrating so I worked at the back by the kitchen. You don’t realize how much work goes into a movie until you see it behind the scenes. It was a new way of learning for me and a great experience overall.
Back to Pasadena, there was a Target I’d wander around in often and not too far from there was this used book store that was such a gem. Oodles and oodles of books. They were already pretty cheap because they were used but on top of that there was this ongoing 50% off sale. I think it was always on. Not too far from there was a cheap movie theatre. My friends and I went to see “Pitch Perfect” and I have NEVER had a movie experience like that one before. People would be cheering and talking and laughing throughout the show. It made the movie come alive for me and to this day, everytime I watch Pitch Perfect, I’m still filled with the same joy I had the first time I watched it.
There’s so much more I want to write about LA. About the subway and how the Gold Line was above ground. The way the track curved at this one spot around these big industrial buildings. How the morning sun would hit the windows. I want to write about the tostada salad I’d stop off at on my way home when I was hungry. About Fuller Seminary. How I’d been accepted to go for my Masters of Theology and Art but things didn’t come together. Which is probably for the best when I think about it now. But still I want to tell you about how beautiful their campus was. How you could drive by it, blink and miss it. I want to tell you about the trees and how amazing it feels to go from the hot heat into an air conditioned apartment (that feels nice in Saskatchewan, too, but we have the wind here to at least help cool things down. It’s different in LA).
I miss LA. I miss the city but I mostly miss the people. I know that things aren’t the same as when I left but even still, I love that city. But until God opens a door for me to leave Regina, I’ll be here for now. And I can learn to be content with that. God knows best.