I woke up Wednesday morning at eight in the morning to my alarm, peered out the window to the bittersweet rain. Sweet, because I love the rain and bitter because two friends from France traveling from bone chilling Chicago were arriving in just three hours to "sunny Los Angeles"
I took my time to wake up and get ready, because even with freeway traffic, LAX would probably delay them by thirty minutes just by the plane traffic alone…and I was right, upon arrival I waited outside a Ralphs for sometime listening to the playlist "Autumn Acoustics" as I watched the raindrops drip down my windshield in a almost-poetic way.
"I love the cold and I'm so happy we have it, but how much does this suck for my guests" I thought to myself as I googled "things to do in Los Angeles when it's raining". My phone was ringing and it was Melina, a girl from France whom I had never met telling me they were waiting for me outside the airport. I started up the car and picked them up rummaging ideas in my head of what we could do. I pulled up and eager parking officers were already trying to hurry me off as Remi and Melina got in my car.
"This is crazy!" Remi said as I understood with out anymore words and nodded my head in agreement.
I met Remi in Sweden, in April or May at one of our open meeting bible studies our YWAM base held every wednesday and later in June at a birthday party. I barely knew him, yet, he, Melina and I were going to be together the next three days exploring Los Angeles.
When I found out they were coming to LA some months prior, I made an effort to act as I was traveling to. So I made a plan for all three days, mapped out things for them to do when I was busy and yelped tons of new restaurants and different (and not so touristy) attractions in Los Angeles and wow, was it fun. New friendships made, laughter all around, and many memories fostered.
From the airport we drove to Venice where I would take them to this place which is like a LA take on a French Brasserie…but definitely just a LITTLE touch of french because Remi couldn't stop talking about how "hipster and LA" the place was. There we caught up from where we left off and got to know each other a little more. After we drove just down the street where they fell in love with the overcast rainy beach town of Venice. We laughed, we chased the seagulls and we took many, many photos. We drove down the main street of Santa Monica and drove back to the valley just before traffic hit. They settled into their room for the night and I had to go to work. That night they explored Hollywood in the rain and nearly slipped and fell walking down the Hollywood walk of fame of that glittery slick marble- from what they told me.
Thursday I met them after they had walked for three hours in Beverly Hills, catching glimpses of mansion like houses as expensive cars zoomed past them. We had lunch at a place called Fresh Corn Grill in West Hollywood which was amazing. The sun came out as we we sat in traffic for an hour as we headed to Pasadena where we had coffee just before I had my french class and they explored the boulevard. Later in the evening we headed to griffith where they were amazed of the view from above of the endless sea of lights that make up just a part of Los Angeles. We had dinner in Franklin Village (which is one of my favorite streets in LA). We walked to the grocery store to pick up a bottle of wine and end the night the way the French do.
The next day we rested a little longer and we met in the afternoon. We took the metro to Downtown Los Angeles to explore Olvera street, China Town, Grand Central Market (and as of yesterday, one of my favorite things in Downtown) and enjoyed all of the different types of architecture. Walking down the street of LA, Remi saw a fruit cart and instantly bought a big bowl of mango, reminding him of his time spent in Colombia. In that moment I realized how free you are when you are traveling. How you set out for a destination with a friend, or with yourself. You set a budget and you indulge in all different senses till you're dead tired. In that moment, I felt as if I was traveling and all my thoughts were coming to complete sentences again. It's only when I'm traveling is when I can write and when I can write I feel forever fluid and free- or at least till my last sentence comes full circle. I smiled; the kind of smile that progressively gets bigger over the length of one long minute. In that moment I remembered all of the people whoever took me in, showed me around and gave me love in another part of the world.
It was about 5 pm and we went to to Bottega Louie where they are supposed to have the best macaroons in all of LA…so I took them there for the real test. We enjoyed coffee with Earl Grey, Rose, Pistachio and Violet macaroons. After our sweet cravings were cured we were destined for possibly the coolest place (or at least top 5) in all of LA- the last bookstore. We were lost, in a good way, for an hour, exploring new books, old books, cook books, bargain books, all kinds paper, notebook, and magazines. We all loved it and that's when they said they reached the climax of the whole trip…until we had dinner with a group of friends from church. We went to the arts district to a raw vegan restaurant/hang out spot. We had appetizers, played games, got to know new friends, conversed of all different kind of subjects and had a really lovely time. After being there for a few hours some of the group decided they would do a late-night In N Out run. As most people are, my friends were crazy about In N Out. We went to bed happy with just a few hours to sleep before we would wake up for the last morning together. We managed to squeeze in a homemade breakfast with the company of Spencer and Kelsey. They showed us the roof of the apartment he lives in. It was crisp and sunny with a little chill to the air. On the roof, with the mountains were surrounding us, we got a beautiful view and breathe of the valley. It was a perfect morning in Los Angeles.
Remi said one last time "that's so LA" as we stopped to get a coffee to-go. (the French never get coffee to go, but rather sit down for hours and enjoy company of another human or catch up on the daily paper)
We headed to the bus stop where Remi would take a five hours bus to Mexico where he will travel for three weeks with various friends we has there. After I took Melina to the Flyaway where she would catch the bus to LAX and fly directly to San Francisco for a week before heading back to her university in Chicago.
We replaced our goodbyes with "see-you-soon's" and said all of our thanks and blessings.
I'm grateful for these last three days, and I'm blessed to having gotten to know these amazing humans in a deeper way.
If there is anything I appreciated even more than the fun and exciting times, it would be the times spent in silence. It reminded me of when I was in Scandinavia, where conversation was just a bonus of the silence. Born and raised in LA, I never understood the silence and it rooted a small fear in me where now I have a strength for making conversation…and I've noticed this among other Angelenos, or transplants. Maybe it's an American/Europe contrast? who knows…
I will miss them until March when I go to Chicago :)
I will miss them until March when I go to Chicago :)