Well, this is it. Within minutes of ‘publishing’ this post, Ruby and I are leaving the Bay area, where we’ve been for three days, and heading north for our cross-country adventure (which is starting out more like up-country). I’m both excited and nervous to begin this journey into unchartered territory, literally and figuratively. As I face these huge unknowns, I wanted to take a moment to look back at all the things, places and people that I’m leaving behind (in no particular order).
My apartment. Kaz’s apartment. He lived there for many years before he met me. The place where we fell in love. Where we lived together. Where he died, and where I grieved him. I still remember the first time I stepped into that apartment, I had butterflies in my stomach.
My neighborhood. One mile east of Mann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in an area called “Little Armenia,” which is adjacent to “Thai Town.” Unlike much of Los Angeles, in this neighborhood everything you need is in walking distance: café, cheap tacos, cheap Thai food, dog supply store, dog washing, dry cleaning, bank, grocery stores (the small mom-and-pop kind and the large chains), gas station, 7/11, post office and so on. Many of these establishments knew me. The mom-and-pop grocery store once let me walk out with a $50 I.O.U. because I didn’t have cash and their credit card machine was down and it was 10 minutes to closing time. I came back the next day with the money. It was such a wonderful interaction. “That’s what it means to be a regular,” a friend told me.
My neighbors. Believe it or not, I never knew any of my neighbors before getting a dog. But in the past two years, I’ve made some very dear friends on the block, mostly other dog owners. We’ve spent hundreds of hours walking our dogs together, having play dates, drinking vodka and juice on hot summer nights, having heated discussions about all kinds of subjects, and laughing until we cried. My neighbors helped me so much with the move, I honestly don’t know how I would have managed without them. Meeting these folks enriched my life, and I’m very grateful.
My dog’s friends. The summer of ’14 will always be known as the summer Ruby met her first love. His name was Capone. They were exactly the same age, born in the same year, just three days apart. They would run around and wrestle in Capone’s yard for hours. To a stranger’s eye, their rough-and-tumble play might have looked scary. But despite the bared teeth, growls, body slams and neck grips neither ever got hurt. On the contrary, they were perfectly matched in size, stamina, strength and love. Capone’s father Ivan said Capone now has two “tear drop” markings under his left eye and sent me the before and after pics. It’s true. They’re there. That’s love for ya.
My dog’s daycare. A dedicated bunch of super professionals who loved Ruby as if she were their own (and whom she loved just as much). Whenever I left her there, I knew she was in good hands. On her last day, they gave her an entire bag of dog treats for free.
My dog’s vet. Though across town and a little pricey, the level of service was excellent. Again, she was in good hands.
My dentist. Remember when I came back from Vermont with a loose front tooth? My dentist gave me a brand new smile and didn’t charge me an arm and a leg. He was kind, patient, gentle, thorough and professional. As a bonus, he was also young and handsome. He was my favorite dentist thus far in life. And, as we all know, a good dentist is hard to find.
My mechanic. In a city like Los Angeles, your mechanic is almost as important as your dentist. I had the same mechanic for 19 years. He was a handsome, middle-aged, white-haired, Persian Israeli man named Eddie. He was like a second father figure, helping me maintain the four cars I’ve owned since moving here. He would always shake his head when I would bring in my ailing vehicle, “Why don’t you bring it to me sooner?” Of course, I brought my car to him before the road trip for a total tune-up and new front brakes. He hugged me goodbye, “Please call me when you arrive. I want to know you got there safely.” That’s a good mechanic.
My therapist. I changed therapists this year and really liked the new one. I liked the old one too. In any case, I’ll miss them both.
My friends. I have the best friends in the world. The only thing that makes leaving slightly less painful is that a few of my closest friends have also left L.A. in the past few years (one just the other week). But I still have close friends in the city, and I will miss them dearly. The good news is a few have promised to visit, and now with social media and Skype, it’s not as difficult to keep in touch. But still.
No list would be complete without mentioning the weather, which is so consistently sunny and pleasant that it’s almost the only thing you can count on in L.A. (other than the traffic). As a friend recently told me, “There is more to life than sunshine.” She’s right. But when I’m shoveling snow in sub-zero degrees I can almost guarantee I’ll be thinking of balmy L.A.
Finally, I will miss my father, who didn’t live in Los Angeles but six hours away. Even though we didn’t see each other more than once or twice a year, it was reassuring knowing he was fairly close. Now, I will be joining my siblings on the east coast.
I’m sure I’ll miss more things and people, but these are the first things that come to mind.
As our former governor cum action hero once famously said, “I’LL BE BACK.”
Now it’s time to hit the road.