Kathump. That was the first sound I heard the first time I landed in Los Angeles. I had just awoken from a deep sleep. My head had been firmly resting against the window of an economy seat of a Boeing 747. Thick white clouds were all I had seen after waking and I had presumed we were flying high but the thump had proven the clouds were in fact a deep fog.
I made my way through the labyrinth of LAX, immigration and customs and managed to find the shuttle bus to my hostel in Santa Monica. I was tired but it was morning here and after I settled into my accommodation I decided to venture out.
I took a walk down to Santa Monica pier. I was unaware of what was about to happen next. My life was simple. I had a good job. Things were stable; perhaps too stable. But I was sad and tired. I was trying to get over a romance that hadn’t ended well. I was in my early 30s and worried whether I would ever have a family due to not having yet “met the one”. I was emotionally exhausted and drained. And, on top of this my Dad was dying.
My new surroundings took me out of the head space I was in. I strolled down the board walk and enjoyed people watching. Perhaps the first thing I noticed, apart from the warm but gentle sun on my skin, was the number of well-sculptured bodies walking about on the beach. I had never seen so many perfectly fit good looking people in my life.
I was to notice over the next week that there was an interesting aspect to this extreme appearance of health – a fierce competition to achieve the best body and to appear the healthiest or the best looking. It was not necessary about loving one’s body. There was also a visible element of poverty I had not anticipated. Several homeless people begged at various points along the boardwalk. The gap between the rich and poor hit me as it was one that was wider than what I was used to.
I enjoyed my time out people watching and found a cafe to sit down and have some refreshments before returning to my hostel and mapping out my activities for the week. I was able to check in on the cafe’s wifi and connect with my new love interest that I was to meet at the end of the week. I let him know that I had arrived safely and was looking forward to our date.
Universal Studios, Beverley Hills and the Getty
Over the next week I visited various landmarks and attractions and the fierce energy of this mega-city jolted me back closer to my happy energetic self. One day I visited Universal Studios and was lucky to visit at a time when there were hardly any crowds, the next day I took a tour of homes in Beverley Hills supposedly owned by Hollywood stars, the next day a trip to the Getty Museum, an art museum that offered spectacular views of the whole area and the sea. I also spent a balmy afternoon cycling down the boardwalk from Santa Monica to Venice Beach.
Each day after my outing I would return to my hostel and relax. I would check in via text with the man I was to meet at the end of the week. I felt a gentle pull to this man; a comfort. He was so easy to talk to and I felt like I had known him for years. We talked about the landmark or tour I was to visit that day. Each day I felt better about and more distant to my soured romance. I also felt more rested from the stressors of my life on the other side of the ocean. Each day I also felt more drawn to this new man and excited about our first meeting. The sun and people watching was helping. I was being healed.
Then it was time to leave Santa Monica. I was transferring to stay at another hotel so I would be ready for my booked tour of the west that started the following day. I packed up my bags and walked to catch a bus to the other side of the city. I told a Swedish girl who was sharing a room with me about where I was going that afternoon. She wished me luck and told me she had a good feeling about my meeting.
The Custom Hotel and the Coffee Bean
I checked in at the Custom Hotel at around midday. My date was at 2pm and so I had some time after check in to freshen up and get dressed. After I had finished getting ready I sat on the hotel and opened up skype and had some time to IM one of my friends expressing my nervousness for what was about to take place. I was a little concerned about my safety but more concerned that the attraction I desired to feel to this person with whom I could so easily converse would not be there.
Then it was time…
I took the elevator and it opened out to a mezzanine with some stairs that I needed to descend before reaching the lobby. I spotted my date from the top of the steps, called out his name and waved to let him know I had arrived. When I reached him and he stood up from the couch where he had been waiting I could see that the sparkle in his eyes that I had seen a few weeks before on our Skype date was still there. I felt relief. He was tall and had beautiful tanned skin.
My friend who I had just been IMing had decided what was best was that I ensure I spend at least an hour with him before I get in his car to go anywhere (for safety reasons) so my date and I soon found ourselves at the Coffee Bean next door to the hotel.
The next hour was the best coffee date I’ve ever had. It was free and easy and we broke all the rules about what topics you should and should not speak about on a first date. We spoke about his trip from Phoenix to L.A., his previous failed attempts to meet people through the website upon which we had met and my impressions of the U.S.A. and L.A.. I decided after this that I felt comfortable enough to see some of the sights of the city with this man and get in his car to do so.
We had a few hours before dinner to explore. We went to the Hollywood walk of fame that I had been unable to locate on the day tour that had stopped there a couple of days before. He also showed me the Chinese Theatre. It’s funny to recall my naivety about the U.S.A. at this point in time. I did not understand the significance of the Chinese Theatre and asked Matt if that’s where Chinese IMAX movies were screened. I also did not know what a downtown was and thought it literally meant “down town” so I remember being confused when driving through the city centre a little later and Matt telling me we were driving through the “downtown”.
Our dinner reservations were at a place called Zane’s just a little way back from the beach at Hermosa. Here people looked a bit more normal that the perfect specimens I had grown accustomed to spotting each day in Santa Monica. We had time for a drink at a bar overlooking the sunset beforehand and as I sat there with my drink just being with this person I felt a lot happier than I had in a long time. I had found someone that just “got me” and we “got one another”. It was different to the fireworks I expected to feel when I met the one. It was instead a deep deep peace.
Drinks at a tiki bar followed a long dinner and a drive to view L.A. at night. It was after 1am when I arrived back at my hotel. It had only seemed a short date but in fact it had been hours that we had been out. The next morning my love interest arrived and brought me breakfast to my hotel. When he arrived I had met up with my new travel companions. We were to see some of the L.A. highlights and then drive to San Diego that day. My love interest said goodbye to me as I got into the travel bus with my companions and told me he would meet me in San Diego.
I’ve revisited this city several times since this week long encounter. My love interest, now husband and I have revisited the beach bar where we had our afternoon drinks, visited Disneyland with our youngest daughter and stayed in the downtown while was located for a few weeks on a project in L.A..
Each time I visit this city I have fun! It has an energy that is invasive. It definitely is not a city that drains. It is a “pick-me-up” town. I have never lived in it so I don’t know if the experience would be different if I lived there but I love L.A. for what it gave me – the best date of my life that began my life’s biggest, best and greatest adventure – my relationship with my husband. For me Los Angeles, the city of angels, certainly has been a city where I have felt angels close by.