My blog has a more personalized look thanks to P. who made and installed this wonderful roll-over banner. He made it on Fireworks using a photo I’d taken with my very cheap digital camera while we were driving on the 101 between downtown LA and Hollywood. I think it’s cool and am very pleased and proud of it. And grateful too as I think my page looks even better than his own (very attractive) blog now. The text “el tercer ojo / the third eye does not weep. / it knows” isn’t original. I’ve borrowed it from a poem by Chicana writer Cherríe Moraga whose work I love and admire.
The real sign obviously doesn’t say “el tercer ojo” but rather “Beachwood Drive Next Exit.” I’ve got sentimental feeling about this exit (no really) and my heart tugs a bit when I drive past it. For years it was where I got off — first when I was driving home and then for more years when I was driving between USC and downtown to visit my parents. My parents moved away from Lake Hollywood and Beachwood Canyon and Los Angeles and California two and a half years ago when business took my dad to Portland Oregon. Telling people where I was from was easy — my parents lived right under the “H” on the Hollywood sign. But until this summer I still passed the exit a few times a month and thought about stopping and visiting my mom before remembering that they were gone. Now that I’ve moved from ‘SC to Santa Monica, my trips to Beachwood are rare, though I still go to visit the Village Coffee Shop and shop at Beachwood Market. It’s way out of the way for P and me, but there’s something to be said about a grocery store in Los Angeles that still takes customers’ personal checks without asking for ID. Everyone knows my name there (or at least my family’s name) and that reminds me of a time when we didn’t need long distance plans to reach out and touch each other. When I see the Hollywood sign, rather than thinking of “home.” I remember that my family has moved away and I’m now a thirty-something orphan.
Odd to think, I’m sure, but though I’ve lived away from Los Angeles and missed it terribly, my parents took part of the city with them when they left. They both carry the history of the last century of Los Angeles in their heads. No, they’re not that old, but they were born here as were their parents. They known an LA before and after the freeways. They understood the riots and why they happened, both in 1960s and in the 1990s. My parents can get anywhere and find anything in this city. And they both had a real love for it as well–loved showing it to people who’d just arrived. Or just driving around, looking at things and finding new places.
I think they miss In-N-Out and good carnitas, but my parents like Portland — moving has been an adventure. And, even though I’d love to have them back in Los Angeles (or even California), their being in Portland means I get to visit Powell’s Bookstore a few times a year. It’s quite possibly the best bookstore in the world (I’d know too, really). And that’s something to look forward to.