I plotted my morning--arrive in L.A. at 7:30 a.m., find a place to have breakfast, go to an H&M store, then drive to Santa Barbara and meet up with my friend. All of that happened, pretty much according to clockwork, except that I didn't realize that the H&M on 8500 Beverly Blvd. was in the Beverly Center, pretty much a temple of shopping. Again, hilarious. I parked the Cruiser in the parking structure and cruised the mall, mulled over the inspired knock-off clothing at H&M, bought a shirt. Then up to Santa Barbara. At 11:30 a.m., the freeway was pretty much mine, so I sailed along and listened to the radio stations of my youth, KROQ and KLOS. What is sort of amazing is that they were spinning the same tunes they spun back then. I locked in with The Eagles, for instance--"Heartache Tonight." I know, someone else besides the stations does all the programming these days, but there was some radio kismet going on, I felt. "Burn Down the Mission," as another example.
My friend and I had a wonderful time. We ate nothing but delicious food, the mist burned off on the beach so we had some sun, we caught up with each other, shared insights about turning 50 (not to say we whined and moaned--not at all! don't even think it!). We took in the lovely little art museum in town. We took pictures.
On the way back to L.A., I bought the new Wilco to listen to. I got to hear it about three times, because the 405/101 interchange was clogged like an old drain. The last twenty miles or so--that's all it was--took like an hour and a half. I made my flight just fine, but on the plane, the friendly young man I sat next to told me that this interchange is one of the worst in the world. (Maybe somewhere they keep a list, like the list of the most expensive cities to live in and the countries with the worst infant mortality rate?) It definitely felt world-class awful. But that was after a great trip, so it was only after the third replay of "On and on and on" that I began to lose patience. Not that losing it, or exercising it either, would have helped.
I realized during the driving parts of the trip that during the time I actually lived in the greater Los Angeles area, when I was in high school, I didn't do all that much driving around, so my felt map of L.A. is completely partial--full of holes. I love the chances I get to go there and do something I've never done before--find La Cienega, surprise myself by going to the Beverly Center, see a new town, pass road signs I'll probably never get a chance to follow. Eat breakfast at Jan's, which bills itself as "The Best Coffee Shop in L.A." The place where we ate breakfast--twice--in Santa Barbara, Pierre La Fond Bistro, was a lot better in terms of the breakfast. But it's a bistro, not a coffee shop. Also, not in L.A. So the comparison probably isn't fair.