Last Tuesday I bundled up and packed a suitcase for a trip to Los Angeles. The vacation was needed and well deserved. The other reason for the trip was to visit my husband’s younger sister before her double mastectomy. It was late March but it felt like mid January. The harsh frigid wind slapped my cheeks red.
Once we boarded the engines blared and the seats shook. Maybe it was my excitement of escaping the cold confines of the dairy state. Despite the seriousness of my sister in law’s plight, I was ready for a different landscape. The plane like my mood climbed above the gray clouds slowly. I watched as the turbulent months in Wisconsin grew smaller and smaller behind the frosted airplane window.
In California it was warm and sunny. Miles and miles of green and brown patched mountains and the ocean’s breeze tickling the nape of my neck. My husband and I spent time with his sister going to Laguna Beach and strolling down the Walk of Fame. People in dirty and cheaply made costumes lingered and howled at tourists. Elmo and Cat Women screamed and did a poor job of imitating the real deal. It was almost like a dream state of mind. Beauty and weirdness somehow collide and transform into a Vegas type of reality.
I went to Venice Beach where the reeking smell of pot almost gave us a contact high. Fools danced and merrily sang in their drug infused stupor. Only the only music was the imaginary band rocking out in their heads. Beautiful arts and craft vendors sat along the boardwalk. I will never again use a port a potty at the beach. I ran to the bathroom and was met with an unpleasant scent of cigarettes and vomit. I opened the door and stepped in someone’s puke. I started freaking out as if I was tripping out on something. My husband’s brother and sister laughed at me trying to wash off my sandal in a puddle.
We also visited the graves of my grandfather, grandmother, great grandmother and uncle. It is the Jewish tradition to leave a small pebble on the tombstone. I placed pebbles on each of their graves. So many miles away from my family and yet close to my relatives that came before me.
We went to the historic El Captain theater and watched a movie. It was there in the seat I relaxed and fell into a deep sleep for most of the movie.
In the amazing and mysterious theater, I had a dream of glamor and poverty. The mixture is apparent when walking down Rodeo Drive and observing homeless people as blondes in expensive clothing walk by unfazed. My husband poked my side to wake me up. I thought about all the problems I faced back home. Bills, career disappointments, marital and money issues were still there in the distance. Looking proudly at my sister in law with a bald head try to have fun despite what was looming in her near future. These things put my own turmoil into perspective.
At times in the past I found myself bored of Milwaukee. The dirtied snow and relentless habit of going to work was losing appeal. By the following Monday, I was looking forward to going back. I ached for the brown grass matted down by melting mounds of snow. I yearned for the taste of cheese and my daily routines. The descent into Milwaukee was bittersweet. We wanted to stay to comfort my sister in law and it was warm during our trip. On the other hand, I missed the comforts of my ratty pink bathrobe and writing on the computer. Milwaukee started to grow bigger and bigger. Oh but the view from above was fantastic. In the stillness of night good ole Milwaukee shined brightly and welcomed me back home.