My fascination with Los Angeles began quite young, younger than I can pinpoint. But my first visit to the West Coast occurred the summer after I graduated from 8th grade. My parents sent me to spend the month of July with my aunt and uncle who lived in a LA suburb with two of their four children still at home. This was fairly common practice in a large extended family. A few years either I had been sent for a two week stay with relatives in Montreal. But this trip, to California, made me the envy of everyone I knew in New Jersey. I pictured myself an overnight surfer girl. Taller, leaner, tanner, practically living on the beach, basking in the sunshine. It was the assumption of everyone I knew that I would return with golden hair and honeyed skin (despite the fact that my hair was a deep auburn and had skin that only reddened under the sun). Instead of this fantasy, my days were quite mundane: I learned to sleep to noon, eat drive-through burgers, and in fact, spend hours driving, for nothing was close in sprawling Cali. Strip-malls were everywhere and really there were as far as my aunt and uncle’s cultural foray drove me. I stepped onto a beach once. After the month, despite my friend’s disappointment over my pasty complexion, I vowed to return to the indigo sky lined with tall palms and air perfumed with night-blooming jasmine. Even that one could glean from the backseat.
Hard to believe I’m headed out of Vermont again so soon, but lucky for me I am. Away from the lingering snow, the gray skies, my hectic schedule and my computer screen, for a whole week. I’m flying to the land of sunshine and flowers and ocean and stars. Yes, you guessed it, I’m embarking on my April Los Angeles visit (with a side-trip to Palm Springs)!