As K drives along the freeway in Los Angeles, I take note of the unusually overcast skies and the notoriously bad traffic.
Southern California and Northern California play a constant tug of war over the title of “Worst Traffic” (And I mean, really, WHY would you WANT to win that title?) While I can’t see a difference in the congestion, I do hear a lot more car horns than I ever hear in San Francisco.
When we get to Santa Monica, the dreary clouds scurry away and sunshine reaches out to embrace me.
Tall, skinny palm trees wave hello.
A local farmers market beckons to me and my friends, and people keep handing me free food. We’ve been here only 15 minutes, and I love Santa Monica already.
Even so, I am nervous.
I’m supposed to meet up with a new friend, E, for the first time since we first met at an event in February. I’m scared.
Why? Well, we all hit it off so well at the event that I’m afraid our friendship will not hold up without that structure.
But I’m relieved to find that that’s not the case. I see E, and it doesn’t feel strange at all. It feels, once again, like I’ve known him for years.
It’s so fascinating to see him in his element here in Santa Monica.
He makes an off-handed remark that he’s been invited to some party in Hollywood, where there may be producers and directors, but he doesn’t really feel like going. Coming from Silicon Valley, where startup culture rules, I forgot that here, Hollywood reigns supreme.
I slam my fork down. “You’re going to SHUN a fancy Hollywood party??”
He brushes off the party like someone who has either 1) been to many Hollywood parties before or 2) is confident he will be invited again. Or both.
“E, GO!” I scream. “Go for all of us who WISH we could!”
I don’t seem to be getting through to him.
“E,” I say, pulling out the last weapon in my Guilt Trip arsenal: comparison to my lame life. “I am lucky if my friends even invite me to a go to a movie.” I become self-conscious when I realize that the friends who often invite me to movies are sitting right there. I mutter an apology to them.
Since there is so much I still don’t know about E, I am eager to have him show me around his turf. We explore Santa Monica on foot: the Third Street Promenade, the beach, and the Santa Monica Pier.
Everything is so picturesque, I’m actually getting angry. I love the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to think it’s the best place in the world. I don’t want to know that just six hours south lies an even more beautiful place.
In fact, Santa Monica is so picturesque, I am just going to show you pictures now.
“You live in paradise,” I keep telling E as I take in our beautiful surroundings.
“It’s not bad,” he quips. “People keep asking me when I’m going to leave Santa Monica. But why would I?”