Monday, September 11, 1989 I arrived in LA in a storm of traffic. I drove west on the 10 freeway in my old blue Pontiac with the windows rolled down. In the middle of late afternoon rush hour I creeped down Kellogg Hill and into the wide hazy basin . I was undaunted by the blistering heat, the miles of cars barely moving, the smog, my broken air conditioner. I was a new girl in a strange town!
Every September 11th for the last 2 decades I’ve silently marked the anniversary of my arrival. The Moss family was a globe-trotting band of nomads. New schools every few years, new houses, new neighborhoods, new friends. The second I graduated from college I was at it again – on the road to somewhere bigger and brighter. Off to see the world, whether I knew anyone in it or not.
I rented a room from a distant aunt, got a newspaper, a Thomas Guide, marched to the DMV, got a California driver’s license, and one week later started working as a data collector. A visceral loneliness swallowed me whole. During the day I drove from one end of the county to another and at night I came home and wrote in my journal, bit my lip, and tried not to cry. Bravado only gets you so far when you’ve run off to seek your fortune.
On the weekends I conducted full-scale investigations of the city. A map, my journal, and a pack of cigarettes for company. Despite my melancholy, here in the land of the quirky and strange I felt like I’d come home. My people were out here, somewhere. I was sure of it.
7 years now at Moss Cottage. My longest stint ever in one house. Definitely the longest span in one city. The old blue jalopy is long gone. All of the windows roll up on my current car. There’s air conditioning. I’ve had the same job for 15 years. Good friends. A posse of cats. A passport. But give me a warm summer night with no early morning wake-up call and I’m still up to my old tricks. Off alone for a drive. The balmy night air swirling around me like a cocoon. One arm out the window, the other on the steering wheel. Eyes scanning the road ahead. Looking out for my former lonely self pulling up beside me at the next red light. I’ve got a secret to tell her, if she’ll stop long enough to listen. “You’re gonna be here a long time. Settle in.”
My sister just finished this book and she tells me I’ll love it. An LA novel with an interesting cast of characters. It’s gotten mixed reviews, but I have a feeling I’m going to like it. Plus I like the idea of James Frey hitting one out of the park after his last fiasco.
p.s. Happy Birthday Dimitris!!! Say hello to Athens for me.