Only recently did it dawn on me that I had never slept in another bed in LA besides my own. I’d been married for a long time, and then I wasn’t married. I’d slept in a lot of places just outside LA: Valyermo, Montecito, San Diego, Lompoc, Palm Springs, Anza Borrego, Joshua Tree, Desert Hot Springs, sometimes in tents.
But though I’d lived in LA for 20 years, I had never, once, slept at another’s house or in another’s bed.
Last January, I gave up my apartment in Koreatown and went on the road. Now I’m back and “in transition.” Now I’ve slept in the charming, nook-like library of my friend Julia’s massive Bronson Canyon Craftsman (glass-fronted bookshelves, green velvet curtain for a door). I’ve slept on a blow-up air mattress on the living room floor of my friend Lisa’s apartment in the Fairfax District. Lisa owns Flounce, an Echo Park vintage clothing store, and her apartment is overflowing with buttons, bakelite, onyx, tiaras, compacts, shoes, gloves, feathered hats, tortoiseshell, amber, odd bits of fabric, Rosalind Russell suits, shantung chemises, and old perfume bottles.
I spent my whole time there snooping through her drawers. What is this?, I asked at one point, holding up what looked to be a tattered strip of old beaded lace/tattered dust ruffle/Tallulah Bankhead’s dog leash. “It’s a dickie! she cried, snatching it protectively from my dangling finger and arranging it coquettishly around her neck. “Isn’t it adorable?” And on her–for you have to meet Lisa–it was.
Now I’m sleeping for five weeks in a big second-floor apartment on the corner of Fountain and Vista in West Hollywood. The bedroom’s in back but I prefer sleeping on the couch. I like to see the people playing tennis under the sodium lights in Plummer Park.
I like to hear the cars and the voices floating up from the street. I spent six months in places where the sounds at night were of wind rustling through the trees, and birds, and coyotes killing their prey; places where there was no streetlife, no traffic. It took awhile, but I got homesick for LA.
One place I’m not homesick for is my old apartment, which I was afraid I would be as I’d lived there so long. It’s been good to see LA from some different windows. Gazing out this one, I think of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the Gulf Coast of Texas, and Appalachia, and all the beautiful, crazy things I saw and experienced. The long days of silence. The nights on other beds, looking up at the stars.
The fullness of every moment, no matter how hard or painful, that no-one will ever know because the words don’t exist. We’re going to die, and no-one will ever know how full our hearts were, how much we loved.
“When in Kyoto, I long for Kyoto,” wrote Bashō, and happy as I am to be back, now I’m homesick for those places, too.
Soon I’ll move. And this is going to be a window I never thought I’d be looking out of. Because I’m now poised for a journey I NEVER thought I’d take.
As of September 1st–I’m going to have a roommate.