January 9th 2019 – Santa Monica trip
My Darling lamb
I’ve decided to go away again to a place I know from the past. Far away from this excruciating hurt. I know people say ‘wherever you go, you’re still there’. But it can’t be much worse than staying here in the flat where everything is a reminder of you. Your soft towelling dressing gown that kept you warm. The blue plastic tray that I took your meals in to you on. I loved hiding little treats for you in the side compartments. The routine of tucking the tea towel into your tshirt so you looked like an Italian opera singer eating spaghetti. Every minute of taking care of you was sacred. Loving you with every ounce of me.
I’m going to Santa Monica where as you know I went over 10 years ago. We’re delayed by an hour and a half. There was an alleged drone sighting this morning but it’s been cleared. The staff on the Virgin flight are all acting like there are no passengers. The one talking into the mic sounded so bored. I thought hang on a minute, you’re having a better time than we are. Such a difference to the service you get in the US. Well, Santa Monica has changed. Or maybe I have. It feels drab and sad compared to when I went in 2008. Main St is especially sad. Places had closed down. It definitely felt strange and not how I remembered which is when I realised my first big life lesson: don’t go back expecting it to be the same. Because you are not the same person. My life experiences have shaped me, moulded me. I have a new perspective unless you just live in the now.
The hotel I’m in is very nice but the lobby is so dark. I crave light and blue sky. Luckily there is some outside. I made notes on my phone to jog my memory of things that struck a chord:
There are constant advertisements for medical treatment on the TV especially Cancer. Every time one for lung cancer comes on I watch it reluctantly knowing all the medical jargon by heart. I have become a pretty good amateur oncologist. I am almost obsessed by it. I had to be. You knew everything about your disease darling. Dr Kapila says that your knowledge surpassed a lot of the medical staff. Your capacity for research and knowledge astounded me. But I realise how fucking scared I was. As soon as you were diagnosed it felt like driving with the brakes on down a steep slope. Every so often we’d stop for a breather.
(dear reader, unless you’ve been through it there is no life comparison. The only one I can think of is someone you love deeply being sent to prison for a crime they didn’t commit. For life. With very little chance of parole. You are on the outside the bars looking in).
And the side effects of the medication are often worse than the disease they are trying to treat. Side effects may include (said very quickly): hepatitis, liver failure, hair loss, weight loss, limb loss, migraines, another cancer, blindness, chafing, speech impairment, nausea, vomiting, stroke, affiliation to the far right, spontaneous combustion and death.
American news anchors shout a lot. Are their vocal chords made of Teflon?
Right by the hotel on the beach everybody does Yoga. Not ordinary fat person yoga, we’re talking acrobatic yoga.
Everywhere you walk in Santa Monica there is the strong smell of Skunk. I remember thinking what a great way to stop any uprising – just make it easy for people to get stoned. Nobody stoned ever started a revolution. Talk about it, yes (we all know those people living in Totnes). Is this a good thing? Well, no.
There’s a shopping mall in Santa Monica called Third St Promenade. I popped into the Levi’s shop and this young guy who thought the word cool was invented for him says ‘can I help?’ so I replied: ‘do you do jackets for curvy women and he said ‘erm.. I what do you mean by curvy?’ so I said ‘well, not like a boy’ so he said ‘do you want to try the men’s jkts? So I said ‘Good luck with your life bruv’
I bought a peachy pink tshirt from Old Navy (like Gap but cheaper) with ‘Rosy Skies Ahead’ on it. On my way back to the hotel a lady at a big cross roads in stopped me and said ‘are you visiting from Europe? So I said yeah ‘she said you must think this is warm but this is cold for us – you’re lucky. I said ‘well my husband who was the love of my life died a few weeks ago so I guess we’re even. Her face was priceless.
What I have noticed is the phrase ‘Have a good one’ has replaced have a nice day. When I first heard it I thought have a good what? Run, shower, shit… maybe they couldn’t bear to be the ‘have a nice day’ country anymore.
When I got back I sat on the empty pool deck overlooking the beach. It’s got such pretty lime trees growing by it. It’s very peaceful as it’s not high season. A girl called Adela came over to take my order. She explained she’d moved out to LA for the opportunities. She wants to be a professional photographer. We talked for a long time about everything. She even showed me how to increase my presence on Instagram and we really laughed at my little boomerang video! Of course I told her about you my darling, how sad I was. Do you what she said: ‘You know the ending of Titanic when Jack says to Rose ‘you have to live your life…’ I cried with her. I thanked her for her sweet, beautiful insight.
Thank you Adela Lopez.