Back Home Again

I’m in Los Angeles for the first time in my life, but it feels like coming home again. Here I am in a gray coastal city, misty and a little cold for the time of year, going on a hilly jog through a lovely neighborhood full of gorgeous homes with even prettier gardens. Rhododendrons and roses are in bloom everywhere and the trees, even on the planting strips of the neighborhood across Hilgard from the UCLA campus, seem primeval in their height and girth.

How is this not the Seattle of my girlhood?

True, I don’t ever remember seeing Variety lying in the driveways of the upper middle class. But I’m surprised at how much is familiar. And, after years of feeling intimidated to visit this other great city, all that anxiety about how I probably wouldn’t like L.A., how I was not pretty enough to be in L.A., how L.A. was not for me, seems pretty silly.

Strangest of all is this: the art in my hotel (the lovely and affordable UCLA Guest House), was done by a family friend. It may have even been done, in part by me!

That’s right. In college I worked in the art studio of our neighbor hand-coloring silk-screened prints with chalk. The artist, Susan Singleton, sold these prints in bulk to a gallery in a Design Center. The large editions were often purchased by hotels. The UCLA Guest House clearly purchased some and the lithograph outside my door is by Sue. Further down the hall is a triptych from her Clouds series, a series I vividly remember coloring. I would sit at a drafting table in her loft South of Pioneer Square, and color with pastels alongside 3 or 4 other artists. We listened to the Talking Heads, took breaks to dance, and practiced chalking and smearing. Only Sue and Nani, her best assistant, were allowed to make the trademark red squiggle at the end.

Uncanny. And very welcoming.