I just spent four days in Los Angeles with my entire family and I couldn’t get over the weather.
No humidity!!! (Well, 40 percent humidity might as well be zero percent humidity coming from South Carolina).
I’ve been to Los Angeles twice before, but this is the first time I actually remembered being there.
I know, it’s weird not remembering an entire trip across the country. But maybe this was the first time I really paid attention.
SPOILER ALERT: IT WAS FANTASIC.
When my twin sister, Joy, and I stepped out of the airport, we breathed in fresh, crisp air, rather than the heavy wetness I expect when I fly back home to New Orleans.
I spun around just like Maria in The Sound of Music, arms outstretched.
Then I saw them.
I’ve lived my entire life away from the mountains. As far away as possible, in fact. Below sea level.
Yes, I’ve seen mountains before (in Los Angeles even!) but still, when I look at them in real life, I still think it’s a fake set, a prop in a movie.
(Or that Disneyland must be REALLY, REALLY big.)
Mountains are such a phenomenon to me. Joy and I peered out the airplane window wide-eyed when we saw the mountains below, looking like large brown knuckles in the terrain.
Our family was visiting Los Angeles because that’s where my brother Franklin lives. He’s a movie editor, and I love saying that.
Our family is spread out across the country, with Franklin as far west as possible, Joy and I as far east as possible and our parents in the middle in New Orleans.
We have always had a family summer vacation, always a place that is NOT Los Angeles, and since Franklin is always travelling to see us on the other side of the country, we all flew out to see him.
“Do you…climb the mountains??” Joy and I asked when he picked us up from the airport.
“I hike a little bit,” Franklin said, and then I started rattling off the names of celebrities who I see hiking in my trashy beach magazines.
(He ignored me. Haha)
At dinner that night—and can I point out that every single thing we ate in Los Angeles was super delicious????—we discussed the massive drought that had taken over L.A.
It was as foreign a concept to me as living with mountains.
Especially with my most recent summer living in New Orleans where it dumps the biggest dumptruck of rain every afternoon over the city, like clockwork.
Apparently, it never rains in Los Angeles, and it has rained even less than expected and now everyone has to conserve water.
You don’t automatically get glasses of water at restaurants, for example.
No running the sink water so other people won’t hear you pee!!!
Um, for example.
Our parents, in a very 2014 move, got an Air BnB house down the street from Franklin rather than go to a hotel.
It proved to be the perfect home base and was roomy and spacious, and not just by L.A. standards. There was even a ridiculously large back patio that we all converged on at sunset and drank wine.
It was actually perfect.
I don’t remember a family vacation being so perfect.
For four days we were surrounded by each other every hour (Joy and I stayed in Franklin’s apartment) and no one got into a fight! We all met Franklin's new girlfriend, who we absolutely loved.
Everyone was in a great mood!
(Must have been the weather.)
We went to a fantastic museum, The Getty Center, and saw panoramic views of Los Angles (MOUNTAINS!!) and saw photography from Ansel Adams (google him) and Joy and I played around in front of an exhibit that showed photos of creepy-looking twins.
We went to a Dodgers game, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, YA’LL, and even though I had been to a MLB baseball game when I lived in New York for a summer, I didn’t remember it. (Go figure.)
This was not like the minor league team that I watched in New Orleans and in South Carolina.
94-mile per hour pitches!!!
The Dodgers lost, but we got to see fireworks after, probably one of the best fireworks shows I have ever seen, and they let you walk right on the baseball field to see them!!
IN THE OUTFIELD!
I spun around (like Maria from The Sound of Music) and looked up at the lights and stands and couldn’t imagine the pressure the players felt.
(I faked a fly ball catch. I stole a bit of grass. I had too many $11 beers.)
The next night, after a day of shopping at THE GROVE and unsuccessfully spotting celebrities, we all gathered at our parents’ Air BnB and watched the first cut of Franklin’s new movie. And we absolutely loved it!!!
It was quirky, it was gorgeous, the music was so fantastic Joy and I Shazamed all the songs (“quit texting!” our mom would yell, and we’d laugh.)
Our aunt, also on vacation with us, actually clapped when the psycho got killed at the end.
The last day of vacation felt much more familiar: our mom made us all go to church.
The only thing that intrigued me was that I wondered if Catholic church in Los Angeles is the same as in New Orleans, which it was.
The only difference was that it was a Fillipino church, and the church bulliten was in Spanish.
And then came another familiar feeling: being squeezed in the car.
It doesn’t sound like a good memory, but it is, because it’s my family and there are exactly five of us, the exact number of people that can legally squish into a sedan.
This is what I remember about all family vacations: everyone squished in, headed somewhere together.
It’s in those tight spaces, where our mom fusses about how she wants Franklin to stop the car in the middle of the street to get a picture of the Hollywood sign, even though we all agreed that it wasn’t a very good shot and, “Why, mom? Nothing significant happened to us near the sign!”
And our dad makes a joke and Franklin doesn’t stop the car and Joy and I laugh hysterically in the back seat as the Hollywood sign disappears.
Pummeling down Sunset Boulevard all of us strapped in, various stages of laugher.
It always seems to be the thing that’s not picture-perfect that I remember the most, and now I wish someone HAD gotten a picture of the Hollywood sign because that car trip is still making me laugh.
Joy and I took the red eye back to South Carolina, which is a very weird experience. Leave Los Angeles at midnight, arrive in Atlanta at 7 a.m., even though it was only a four hour flight. MY NIGHT
The last thing we did before going to the airport was attend a festival at a park within walking distance of Franklin’s apartment.
It was called the Lotus Festival because of all the gorgeous Lotus flowers blooming in a small lake. (“Recycled sewer water, no swimming.”)
We went back to the Air BnB, caught up some more, and Joy and I were then driven to the airport.
Joy and I always cry leaving our parents and brother, because that’s how close our family is, and that’s how much I didn’t want to go back to 450 percent humidity.
“Red eyes on the red eye.” (I tweeted that, I’m so clever!)
It really was a perfect trip. AND I REMEMBER IT!
I drove to the beach yesterday, after returning to South Carolina, and I looked out over the marsh and river, the intracoastal waterway.
There were no mountains in the distance, no way the A/C couldn’t be on full blast, and I got all melancholy (jet lag?) and I wished, just for a second, that there was a Hollywood sign in the distance.