The things that capsize you

Trip Start Oct 05, 2005
Trip End Apr 06, 2006

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, February 17, 2006

"The things that capsize you usually happen on an idle Tuesday." (Ben the Aussie)

Strange being back in a place you have bad memories of. Los Angeles was my last stop on the same trip I met Fran on, eight years ago. I was staying in a hostel called Uncle Sam's On The Beach, run by a huge black guy called Sam, who wore a gold medallion and hugged me too much. Venice Beach is not exactly salubrious. In fact, it downright gave me the creeps. I called my airline to gauge when the next available flight home was, only to be told there wasn't one for three months. Three months! After drawing attention to the problem by screaming the hostel down, a friend of Uncle Sam's called the airline for me, "kicked ass", and got me on standby for the next day.

To celebrate, I cracked open the six beers I'd been carrying (I was still too young to go to the pub) and sat on the porch, listening to a guy improvising songs on a guitar, and a homeless man, who had wandered in off the beach, reciting poetry. The next day, hungover, I duly waited at LAX for eight hours, only to be told ten minutes before take-off that I was on. I had planned a last minute dash for fags and booze, but to be honest, my legs couldn't run fast enough onto that plane.

And yet here I was, eight years later, in another shady hostel on Venice Beach (Uncle Sam's had been turned into an apartment block), mixing it up with the waifs and strays - fellow travellers, semi-destitutes, Aussies in search of the surf, Americans in search of the dream. I shared a room with a nanny and her three-year-old charge, a Canadian hippy, and a girl who made a living out of being an audience member on judge and jury TV shows.

Tiphaine is living in LA at the moment so I gave her a call and we went to the Getty Center, an amazing museum perched on the Santa Monica hills. I also met up with Lauren (the comedy actress from the glacier trip in El Calafate). On Sunday we all went to see The Importance of Being Earnest, and it made me miss London -- cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off, bunburying in the country... all the things I never do. Tuesday was Valentine's Day so we went to a restaurant with Lauren's friends for an anti-Valentine's meal, which was a good laugh as Lauren had bought everyone a trashy romance novel and written a note in the sleeve. I was given "On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God". Tiph was given "The Morning After" and can't seem to put it down.

Had a bit of a crisis in the love department, which left me a trifle worse for wear, so went to stay at Tiphaine's for a few days. She is living in the most amazing house in Beverly Hills with her three brothers, who have moved over here from Paris. It is like something from MTV Cribs. The whole 90210 yards. As you can imagine, it was a bit of a shock to the system going from the hostel, where we were only allowed one blanket (mine was covered in hairs of the downstairs variety), to huge antiquey-looking bed with feather pillows and satin covers. I almost choked when I saw the sauna.

Spent a week just chilling out, sunbathing by the pool, eating crÍpes, going for lunch at Fred Segal, shopping on Beverly Drive... you know, the usual.

But the time had come for me to bid La La Land adieu. San Francisco was calling. My heart was heavy but life wasn't getting any longer. I had to dust myself down and get back in the game.
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