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November 26, 2010

There must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found...

This morning I went to my first-ever Black Friday shoppingpalooza. Well, really I just went to Target for some household stuff -- soap and paper towels and cat food. But it is Black Friday and I was there at 5 a.m. so I think it counts.

I often wake up freakishly early and this morning I was sitting in bed drinking coffee and watching news at 4 a.m. and of course they were interviewing people camped out on a sidewalk outside some electronics store.

"You're insane," I said to my television screen.

Then the reporter mentioned that Target was opening at 4 a.m. and since I was already up and caffeinated and semi-dressed, it wasn't long before I was sitting in my Jeep in a jam-packed Target parking lot.

"This is insane," I said to my steering wheel.

But I was there already, so I channeled my inner Niecy Nash and said, "I'm going in!"

It was actually kind of fun. The shoppers all looked sleepy and happy and the store was about as crowded as it usually is midday on a Saturday, but (unlike midday on a Saturday) the store was packed with red-shirted employees and every checkout aisle was open for business. The electronics area had a huge line, which I avoided, and I meandered around unhindered until I found THE PILLOWS.

Just by chance I found a really great sale on pillows. The good pillows, not the cheapo ones, and they were on Black!Friday!Sale! for four bucks. So I stuffed a few in my shopping cart and moseyed on. All the sudden I became a beacon for every woman in the store.

THE PILLOWS!!! WHERE DID YOU FIND THOSE PILLOWS!! MUST HAVE THE SALE PILLOWS!!!! WHERE WHERE WHERE ARE THE SALE PILLOWS!!

The ninth woman to ask had a wild-eyed look of shopping desperation which was my sign to quickly and quietly exit Target before THE MADNESS set in. At checkout I somehow ended up with both a $15 giftcard and a $10 bonus giftcard, so in essence I was paid $25 to shop for detergent and string cheese and whateverelse. AND I GOT THE PILLOWS!!!!


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Yesterday around eleven in the morning I laced up my shoes and went for a long walk along the Boulevard. It was one of those perfect Southern California days that reminds you that we live in paradise, everything was so golden and crisp and saturated with color it looked like the day had been sucked into photoshop and retouched to perfection. The sky was as blue as a movie set sky, the palm trees were bright green and sharp and waving in the breeze.

Since it was Thanksgiving I was surprised to see the sidewalk cafes full of people but they were. Everyone was relaxing, their faces turned up to the sun, drinking steaming mugs of coffee and enjoying the day. There were folks out all over the neighborhood. Some were shopping -- the grocery store was a traffic jam of cars and pedestrians -- and others were out walking dogs, jogging, pushing baby strollers. A yoga class let out just as I was passing by the studio.

Starbucks looked like a dog convention was being held on the patio, all the tables were packed with people who brought along canines of every size and shape and color. One dog was wearing a little pink bow in her hair, one had on a jingle bells collar.

I love this city but I especially love my neighborhood. I lived here before (back when I was married) although now I live in a different part of the zipcode. I'm just a few steps off the Boulevard and it's one of my favorite stretches of sidewalk in the world.

When my older brother was here visiting in September, he and my parents drove up from Orange County to see my place and go out to lunch and I was babbling on and on about how great it is here and how happy I was he got to see my neighborhood on his trip. He lives in a beautiful beach town just south of Daytona Beach and he has a very happy life there. I think it's funny how absurdly proud I was to show off my neighborhood and my skinny-but-tall apartment when he lives in the picture of American bliss. He owns a beautiful sprawling home with a pool and a huge lawn in Florida, the kind of house that would be impossible to find here unless you were willing to pay a bazillion dollars for the property alone.

Yet there I was, proud as a new mother showing off my rented slice of the city, relieved that there was just enough street parking that day for my dad's truck to fit.

"It's a cool neighborhood, sis," he said. "And your apartment is great."

"Does it make you want to move here?"

"I wouldn't live here if you paid me," he said. "Too many people and way too much traffic. You just can't escape from it out here."

I knew the answer before I asked. And he's right in some ways, of course there is always traffic, there are always people everywhere you go. I'll be the first one to tell you my quality of life has improved dramatically since I quit commuting.

But what drives some people nuts about the city -- the feeling that you can't escape it -- is what makes it so appealing to me. The city itself and all those people are like a teeming hive and I'm part of it. I never feel lonely in Los Angeles. If you want human interaction all you have to do is leave your door and the whole city spills out around you. Everything here involves a crowd: the grocery store, a trip to the coffee shop, a visit to Target any day of the week. Even in my apartment building there are all my neighbors making noise, living life. There's the one who obsessively checks the door handle, and the Russian couple across the courtyard, and the beautiful girl who wears high heels to walk her dog. It's a one-act play every day, a little scene of urban life.

Sometimes the city is a lot to take and you feel relieved to come inside and close the door and be quiet for a while. But it's always there. You're never isolated even if you're a homebody like me. And when you need it, it's always there waiting for you just outside the door. You can count on it. It's a very comforting thing for someone like me.

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AND I GOT ALL THE PILLOWS!!!!!!!

Posted by laurie at November 26, 2010 10:25 AM