Tuesday, July 8, 2014


I’m sitting in an organic coffeehouse on trendy Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. It is one of my favorite L.A. neighborhoods. A life-size framed photo of Lucille Ball looks down at me from the brick wall on which it is mounted as BMWs and Mercedes roll down the street. Not one of the pedestrian passing by carries any extra weight other than what is loaded in the tasteful shopping bags.

This is truly an alternate reality. Somehow it all grounds me. I belong in this land of frozen yogurt, palm trees and boutique shops that bait my credit card from my wallet. I can see the lunacy in all of it, and in spite or because of that, this is what feels like home. In Los Angeles, the trivial matters. Every stop during the day is a carefully chosen event.

This city is the place where I first felt free. Twenty-five years ago, I managed to escape the stifling judgment of Texan Bible-belters. I finally heeded the words of the Village People. I decided to Go West. (Sorry, but I’d have never made it In the Navy.) It wasn’t just about feeling accepted as a gay man. I also finally found friends who were vegetarians or who didn’t view me as a steak-deprived freak of nature. This is the place where I also felt most comfortable celebrating my geeky love of all things entertainment. Was I one of the thousands of Hollywood wannabes? Absolutely. But this is the one aspect of me that remained closeted. I suppose I didn’t want to taint my newfound freedoms with a new realm of rejection.

This morning I registered for a full-day television writing symposium with panelists from Modern Family, Parenthood and Community. On my iPhone, I’ve entered a retro movie screening of “Shampoo” with Lee Grant in attendance. Here, I can indulge in superficial culture without a tinge of embarrassment.

While I stayed in the heart of West Hollywood last summer, I am in ho-hum Westchester this time around. Never heard of it? Neither has your average Los Angelino. (It is the first community north of LAX, the kind of area that pushes me to get out and get away. I am embracing the Nobody walks in L.A. mindset.)

This is most definitely a world away from my scenic but sleepy home environment 1,300 miles up the Pacific Coast. At once, I feel relaxed and invigorated. Let the vacation begin!


Rick Modien said...

Ah, California. I'm homesick for it too, and I've never even lived there. Does visiting Disneyland over twenty-one times in the past nearly forty years count?

I envy you, RG. Vacation time in CA, and a new romance waiting for you when you return home. Bliss.


Rural Gay said...

I've been California dreaming ever since driving away from this place last August. What amazes me is the absolute lack of a letdown after all that anticipation.

I don't think I'll make it to Disneyland this time around, Rick. I'm tending to a couple of tricky rescue dogs this summer so my excursions are shorter. I expect less socializing this time around too as my closest friends are currently following the Tour de France while I look after their house (and the aforementioned high-maintenance pooches). Even without Space Mountain, it's bound to be a great summer!