City of Angels

August 22, 2016,

Los Angeles

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As we drive the family from San Diego to Los Angeles, I finally spot the Hollywood sign. The sign was originally made for a local real estate developer and read HOLLYWOODLAND. Somewhere down the years, the land got sold and the LAND from the sign got dropped. While the husband drove the family around Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, I went and got me some highlights. If I’m going to get my hair done, what better place than Hollywood land?

Tip – If you need a restroom on Hollywood Boulevard, try LALA Land, the souvenir shop.  

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The Roadtrip from Phoenix to San Diego – Night 1

Night 1 – A Lightening Storm

When we reached the gate to board our flight from LA to Phoenix, the agent at the gate scanned our passes and then scanned them again to verify something. The husband and I looked at each other and braced ourselves for the worst. She smiled brightly and said, “I don’t know why, but  they have changed (our hearts sink, not another flight please!!) your seats. You now have seats __ and __, but the flight is not full, so you could try and switch once everyone is seated.” Almost as soon as she finished the sentence the husband responded, “We’ll take it!” At this point we really didn’t care what our seat assignment was, all we wanted were 2 seats on a flight to Phoenix.When we finally reached Phoenix, I was ready to fall on my knees and kiss the ground.

A lightening storm is an awe inspiring spectacle, but when you see it at night, from the window of an airplane it feels more like dark demon grinning manically at you. As we approached Phoenix,  we could see flashes of lightning  jarring the dark night sky. Luckily it didn’t affect landing. Even more luckily, my bag was waiting for me at baggage claim.

After spending a good 10 minutes deciding on a rental car, we picked a bright red Kia and drove out into the lightening storm. Nature had put on quite a show for arrival. Four hours later, we reached our digs for the night at 2 the next morning. Almost twelve hours later than we had planned!

Tales Along the Way/An Immigrant’s Story

When you travel, you meet people, and sometimes you get to hear their stories.

“I’m a strong woman.”, she said. “Oh yaa, I am a strong woman.”  She searches for words to express herself. Her English is not very good. It’s broken and sometimes grammatically wrong, but she is voluble. “I had my first child when I was 14.”, she says. “Ahh haan. I was only fourteen. And only one month after she was born, I was pregnant again. One month after the second child was born, I was pregnant with the next one.  Five!!  I had 5 children like that. One, and then another one, and then another one.”  She  circles with her hand to gesture repetition  and nods for effect. “I have been through a lot in life.” She shakes her head. “I married 3 times.” She nods her head and raises 3 fingers. ” Ohhh yaa, three times!!  My first husband, I was married to him for 7 years. Then I divorced him. I was only 14 when I ran away from home with him. He used to live down the street. He was 21 years old.” More head shaking. ” I was 14 and he was 21. That time all I wanted was to get away from home. To be free. I lived with my step-mother. I wanted to get away. My father, he never showed us any love.He never say, I love you.. no..”, she gestures with a wave. “..nothing. He never say nothing loving to us. My sister left home when she was 14 too.” She paused for a moment. Her face wore a sad look. Then she continued, ” I looked for a job. Getting a job, it’s so hard…so hard”, More head shaking. “Then one day my  friend said, lets go to LA. I said ok! And we came to LA.  I’m from *TJ.” ,she says, by way of explanation. “You know, Tijuana?” she clarifies and I nod . At this point we were briefly interrupted.

“Did you get a job in LA?”, I asked in an attempt to hear the rest of her story. ” Oh yaa!!”, she nodded. ” In LA there were many jobs. I worked in a big company for many years. I got a job, and then I brought my girls to live with me. I left my children with my husband when I went to LA. After I get a job, I bring them. Not the boys, because you know, boys they need their father.” She smiles. “I am a very strong woman. I did it all on my own. Nobody did nothing for me. I learnt everything by myself. That is why I am so strong. It has not been easy, but I did it.” Her face glows with pride, and not unjustly.

I never got to hear the rest of her story. Perhaps, it is not necessary.

*Tijuana – Mexican city across the border from San Diego. I plan to cross the border and go there someday. It may not be Mexico’s best or safest city, but it’s just across the border and easy to access.