I lived in the US for 8 years, six and a half of them in my little NYC, and eighteen months in LA, which I never had any interest in moving to, but did so because my husband got a great job offer there and since our next move was to my land on the other side of the world, I figured I owed him at least that.
LA is a funny town. Owing to Gregory’s insane work hours (chefs do not understand work-life balance - an executive chef isn’t aware the concept even exists, and kitchens operate rather similarly to the military – ‘yes sir, no sir,’ and there is no time for discussion because your lavender infused béchamel sauce is about to boil over) we lived near where he worked, which meant we shacked up in a tiny seaside cottage in the tourist hotspot, Santa Monica.
It wasn’t a bad life. I took a break from performing so I could write (and be near my new husband) swam in the beach every morning, rode my bike to work in a nearby fancy restaurant, and earned a quid doing what I do unfortunately well – seating the people.
Gregory and I would meet at the end of the evening and wine and dine the night away with our other hospitality friends.
It wasn’t a bad life because it is very easy to love that sort of life - you know someone at every joint you enter, there is a lot of fresh seafood and a stupid amount of gin.
It is fair to say I started to resemble a juniper berry.
I drank so much of the stuff over those 18 months that I haven’t touched it since.
I would argue this excessive intake was necessary because while the friends we made in LA were fabulous and are some of our dearest, the pervading culture of that town is more toxic than the plastic filling the chests of most women.
Almost everyone who lives there is waiting to become someone. And if they’re not, it’s because they already think are someone, which comes with it a sense of entitlement so outrageous and misplaced, I was forced to fight fire with fire and between the hours of 6 and 11 in the evening I became a hostessing vigilante, informing people with just a look and a well raised eyebrow that they are, in fact, one of the most wretched people in the world, that it is just dinner they’re waiting for and that conventional manners suggest that if someone is in front of you, they will be addressed first.
Still, I missed it when we left. The excellent weather, (I am sorry to say that it is superior even to Sydney’s) the Santa Monica farmers markets, well attended by locals, celebrities and the ever-following paparazzi, and the odd-bods who make the sands of Venice beach their home.
Apparently if you are released from re-hab and have nowhere to go, you are issued a one-way bus ticket to Santa Monica and Venice.
It’s very kind of them really. If I was going to be homeless I’d much rather do so under a palm tree than above a subway grate in NYC. Particularly in winter.
These delightful characters can be found sitting in a circle beating drums as the sun sets, chilling quietly on a grassy knoll, or (as I witnessed this time round) performing a bizarre sand-dance with arabesques and pirouettes, dressed in ragged shorts and bike helmets with antlers sticking out.
You don’t get that sort of entertainment at Bondi.
I ran a lot in LA. So I saw a lot while I was there.
And it inspired this piece about plastic surgery, Hollywood wannabes and the meaning of life.I hope you enjoy it.