Tuesday, September 11, 2007

USA: Los Angeles to Chicago: 30 August - 7 September 2007 (Written 6-7 September 2007)

Leaving L.A. always feels strange. Both times I was leaving for real, my last afternoon and evening was spent with Nia. Two years ago, we went for a bike ride using Brett’s bikes. This time, we went riding on Sarah’s bikes. We rode down to Washington Pier and saw dolphins, cruising through the waves. What a perfect day, with perfect weather. Riding back up to Santa Monica, I saw a beautiful long haired guy standing, watching the water. John Picone. It was like a repeat of my farewell to L.A. when I was living there. The synchronicities during the past two weeks have been shocking. Saying bye to John, it was like an affirmation of how I cannot just leave L.A. and never come back. Maybe it takes two years, maybe next time it will be more, maybe less, but it’s not final. It’s a good thing.

We had a snack at Sarah’s, sitting on the totally meditative porch, and it broke my heart to leave. To be enveloped in such love and care and have to leave it can be so hard.

I went to exhale spa in Santa Monica and had an extra long session, then went to Barnes and Noble to wait for Ramon. Reading about Mexico and Nicaragua and Costa Rica made my imagination go swirling through the colors, smells, flavors, and sounds – I can’t wait.

On Thursday, we slept in and went to Dr. Irani. It’s these small relationships that stay in my mind when I leave a place. We went to La Playita, the perfect ending to my visit. Now I’m waiting to board my plane.

The time after my last blog entry was interesting. On Thursday (of last week), I went to Hala’s class in the morning, then Khatereh came to get me on Ocean Ave. I love this woman, and I’m pretty sure I always will. We had an enormous tasty Persian lunch in Westwood and then I met Nia. We went down to the beach and she had a salad at delizia. I was meeting Megan that night, and I’m really glad I got to see her. We went to Bravo, one of my old staple places, and had tasty pizza and salads. Hung out at Novel Café listening to a few guitarists and tambourine, playing the Girl from Ipanema, and I stayed at Christian’s.

On Friday I had my appointment with Michael Greenspan, the neuromuscular masseur. I don’t quite know how to describe it – pain, relief, shock…I went to Sarah’s after and after making breakfast took a long nap – that massage really took it out of me. After I woke up, we made squash patties and steamed artichoke, all delicious. I helped her get ready for her date that evening which was so fun to be all girly. I was having an emotional hangover, probably released from the massage, and just took it easy. That night, Jenny came over and we watched The Notebook, the ultimate in cheesy chick flick but it was great after the past 2 years of barely watching any film. We chilled out at Novel too (that place really became my hangout this trip).

Saturday morning I went with Ramon to Dr. Irani but he wasn’t there…so right after Ramon dropped me off, Dr. Irani calls me and so I just headed right back down there on the bus. My neck was in serious pain, and I have no idea whether it was related to the massage or not. I felt great after seeing Dr. Irani though.

I had another nap and then went to Brad’s class in the afternoon. Barbara was there, so it was great to catch up with her. I then flowed right into Lynda’s yin/meditation class. It was a much-needed 3 hours of bliss. I followed that by going up to the spa in Santa Monica (talk about spoiling yourself for a day!) and met Lama, who Sarah had told me about. She’s a Palestinian/Syrian yoga teacher currently living in Nice – we went to dinner at Musha and it was fabulous. Takuma hadn’t changed at all, still giving me little nibbles and it was great to have our old Japanese banter, unchanged. He’s gotten married though, which came as a bit of a surprise (not in a bad way).

Sunday morning at Saul’s class, followed by La Playita with Lama, then Jenny and I went to Malibu for some kayaking. It was ridiculously crowded for the Labor Day weekend, but we finally managed to find parking. The tide was pretty high and it was a bit of a challenge getting in (a very very kind couple helped us in) but once we were in, it was great. The water looks more beautiful each time I’ve been up to Malibu. We saw a sea lion! He was being chased around by birds, it was funny. We did, however, totally capsize on our way in. The beach was packed with Mexicans, who are all just so nice – a few guys came rushing over to help us bring the kayak to shore. The kayak is about 65 lbs and we had to carry it all the way across the beach – because it was a holiday weekend and we didn’t want to hurt the beachgoers, we went further down from the ramp – and so several guys came to help Jenny (but not me!) – probably because I was leading and she was seriously struggling behind. Ahh well.

I went back to Sarah’s and Tiffany came soon afterwards. We took the bikes down and rode on the beach, which was crowded but not too bad. We met up with German and went riding up north for a bit when we ran into Ivan and Maru – what a great synchronicity. Great to see this lovely couple from Buenos Aires – it looks like we’ll all be there in January. Tiffany and I went for a big meal at Panini Café, then to – surprise, surprise – Novel Café. There were a couple guys playing some southern music out front, and afterwards, Esau, a Salvadorean who was raised in Costa Rica, came out with his guitar. He started playing Veinte Anos, by Bebo y Cigala, and it was absolutely phenomenal. I instantly thought, wow, in a month, I’ll be listening to stuff like this everyday and there will be music flowing out of all the cafes and restaurants – what soul-healing power. He played a few other things for us, and proceeded to talk. A lot. We eventually got away and spent awhile chatting at Sarah’s before she left. I am so glad that Tiffany and I got to spend a lot of time together this trip, and that we got along so well. We were both apprehensive because of issues that have come up in the past, and we haven’t done a great job of maintaining contact over the past 2 years, but it felt really natural and open. Funny how friendships and people are. It’s a good thing.

Monday morning I went to Saul’s class, which was crazily packed and it was possibly the best class I had with him. The Om Nama Shivaya and the Om Mani Padme Hum…no words can describe this. After, I had my infamour breakfast burrito from Novel and looked around at the flip-flop heaven that is ZJ Boarding House. Nia came and due to serious heat, we spent some time just relaxing on the porch. Finally we decided we should get some food so went on the bikes down to delizia. We then decided to ride up to REI, except things got a little nerveracking when multitudes of pedestrians blatantly disregarded the BIKES ONLY sign and were slowly, dazedly, ambling on the bike path. Ahh well. This was my first time riding in traffic in L.A., and it definitely raised my stress levels but I made it ok. Got some stuff at REI and back to Sarah’s. Jenny came to get me in the evening and we went to watch “2 Days in Paris” – it was a refreshing comedy that incorporated so much about France and America it was really quite charming. I was absolutely exhausted so it was an early night.

Tuesday Khatereh and I had breakfast at Urth Caffe, ran some of her errands, then went down to Costco where Elie and Oran joined us. It was her and Elie’s 10-year anniversary, and Oran is now 7. Wow. I’m pretty sure the next time I see Khatereh will be in Iran. Can’t wait. Ramon came to get me so we could go play in the waves, then I got ready for yoga. My last class with Saul – it was so strange, it was the first class of his that I didn't cry in. I don't know if it means anything.

Molly came to meet me and we went to Musha and intermittently talked about Cuba and then there was silence as food arrived, then a mélange of conversation about Cuba, food in Cuba, to Japanese food, to let’s cook Japanese food for our hosts in Cuba, to..ahh I love it. We then went to Novel to do some serious planning and it was hilarious how it became so apparent that a month is really not sufficient to see all the places in Cuba worth seeing, and to let it soak in. It’s a good start, though, and after much deliberation, we came up with a tentative plan. I’m really glad we decided to have this meeting before we meet in Havana, because I feel like we’re going to have a much smoother trip than we would have otherwise (cross fingers). Addressing potential problems, expectations of budget, daily schedule, food, transport, accommodation, and our meeting plan since I arrive in Havana 3 days earlier than her – wow, I am so glad we did this. We had a few speed bumps in Japan and I feel like we both learned a lot from that. Total optimism and excitement about this trip now. I stayed with Ryan that night.

Wednesday morning I was off to a rough start because I was just exhausted – I cancelled my acupuncture and decided to go to Brad’s class instead. Yay for that. Khatereh brought me my enlargements and we bade our farewells – then Jesse came to meet me at Ryan’s. It was so funny, I barely recognized him – his appearance changes every time I see him. He fits like an old glove; I love this guy. Our time was short but it’s another one of those situations where it doesn’t necessarily indicate the future.

And the rest of Wednesday, I already wrote about. So I got to Chicago, Joe Pollack was there to get me – I am so so so glad I chose to fly into Chicago so I could see him. The last time was right after I had returned from West Africa. I’ve known him for over 10 years! It feels so strange to say that. He cooked a yummy dinner for us (he lives with his lovely girlfriend Natalie) and we spent the evening chatting and watching planet earth – what amazing footage. This morning we slept in and then Joe made us spinach, tomato, and garlic omelettes, and just afterwards we ordered pizza from Giordano’s because I wanted to have some since I was in Chicago. Yummm. Then I got on the Greyhound bus, where I am now, and I will see Mika in just a few minutes. Sighhhhhh.

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