This episode is dedicated to my friends Deborah & Reno Goodale, owners of The Back Door Bakery, the best (and almost only) great place to eat in Sunland. Their Patty Melt is to die for, everything, including the condiments, are home-made, truly all natural and delicious. Worth the drive from anywhere.
It was a long night, talking to myself, my other self – my younger self, the one who had all the dreams and desires still hidden in her heart. That’s a big problem with running away from yourself, you can never make it quite far away enough and eventually, you catch up with you.
So I sat in the Little Yellow House and thought about my life.
I had just spent a good amount of time in Florida, where I had moved in the mistaken (or misinterpreted) belief that my parents had wanted to spend some of whatever time they had left here with me, they way I had wanted to spend time with them.
As it turned out, no one in my family had wanted to spend any time with me if it was inconvenient, and apparently, it was. All of them had wanted to go on living their lives exactly the way they had lived them before, before I had moved my entire life to Ft. Lauderdale.
And they were entitled to do so.
Which made it a little easier for me to decide what I wanted to do with my life. Especially when I removed my family from the equation, which I was also entitled to do.
The first thing I knew I wanted to do, was to get out of The Little House from Hell and find a better place to live. And by better I meant anyplace other than Sunland-Tujunga.
I had lived there for so many years – about 9, first because my horses lived there at a barn that had a great amount of land for my horses to roam around, but marginal care so I went to see them every day just to make sure they were still standing; and secondly because I had gotten work there making wigs for various theatrical plays and Cirque Du Soliel.
Now that my elderly horse had passed away and my Mustang was safely boarded at Peacock Hill Ranch, a 5 star resort for horses if ever there was one (here in Los Angeles, anyway), receiving the kind of care I wish someone would provide me, and the wig lady had unceremoniously fired me via email while I was in Florida (funny only because her only celebrity client kept her on while appearing in several of those “worst wig” polls for many, many years (a sign of loyalty if ever there was one)), I could pretty much do what ever I wanted to do, and according to my younger self, what I was going to do was act. Whether I really wanted to or not.
Where to move posed a big problem. After living in Ft. Lauderdale for a year, I just didn’t want to live in Los Angeles. Ft. Lauderdale is beautiful. Los Angeles is not. Ft. Lauderdale is clean, Los Angeles is not. Ft. Lauderdale is well cared for, Los Angeles is not. Ft. Lauderdale takes pride in itself, Los Angeles.. well, you know where this is going.
I wasn’t exactly sure where I would be moving, but I knew for sure it had to be less than 15 minutes from my horse. Ten would be better.
So I drew a radius of ten minutes from his ranch to determine my options.
But here’s the thing about Los Angeles – in most other areas of the country, a 5 mile drive runs roughly 5 minutes. In Los Angeles it can run you about 15 or 20 minutes. Maybe 30 if you have to jump on a freeway. Who’s kidding who, more like an hour.
One problem with Sunland-Tujunga is you have to drive 15-20 minutes to get to a place that will get you to where you want to be. You just can’t get there from almost anywhere else, which may account for some of its charm, a term I am using very loosely, because, quite frankly, it has none, which is why almost everyone there drives 15 or 20 minutes to get to some place else where there is something other than fast food and auto parts. If you like fast food & auto part places, it’s the place to go. For anything else, not so much. Except, of course, horses. And maybe meth, if you’re into that.
It’s not that some really great people in Sunland-Tujunga aren’t trying to make the area a better place to live, it’s mostly that most of the citizens consider the area “Rural” a term they confuse with the area known as “Dogpatch” where Lil’ Abner and Daisy Mae live. For a year ( another misguided attempt to move closer to my family) I lived in Honesdale, PA. My nearest neighbors were dairy farmers, who had 200 head of cows they milked twice a day. Once in the morning before the cows went out and then again when they came in for the night. Winter, Summer, Spring and Fall, Daytime, Nighttime, Rain, Shine, Sleet or Snow. Next time you buy a container of milk, think about that.
But the point is, if you let your lawn get kind of shabby, they paid you a visit. They were farmers, they were rural, but they never allowed their property to look like any in Sunland-Tujunga. Just sayin’.
I had become just a bit discouraged, when I noticed at the edge of the radius I had drawn on my map, was a little city called Burbank.
Burbank was everything Los Angeles was not and everything Ft.Lauderdale was, without the sea and the swamp. Burbank was where the majority of the citizens of Sunland-Tujunga drove to when they wanted something more than fast food and auto parts.
I myself had made many trips down the hill to the Empire Shopping Center, which held almost everything you can imagine. Lowe’s, Best Buy, Target, TJ Maxx, Nordstroms Rack, Staples and now, since my move back from Florida, Walmart, the King of all Big Box Stores.
Just across the bridge was Macy’s, Sears, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Ikea.
But it wasn’t just the big box stores.
There were all sorts of small stores, clothing, appliance repair, antique, vintage, food, food and more food. Small restaurants abound.
Burbank was everything I remembered about Los Angeles the I first moved to Los Angeles. Small, charming, quaint.
I loved Los Angeles when I first came here. Coming from New York, with towering sky scrapers and busy streets, Los Angeles was almost everything I had dreamt it would be. Except for downtown, there were almost no buildings over two stories tall. There were two-story apartment complexes with pools in the middle of the courtyard. Exotic plants I had never seen before populated the front gardens. Complexes that had names like “The Melody”, “The Shangri-La” and my favorite in the Valley “Horace Heidt Magnolia Estates”, a community not unlike Garden Bay Manor, patterned on an English Village, where I grew up in Queens and which might explain my love for English actors and Fish & Chips.
I found a lovely little house, owned by an elderly woman who was now living in an assisted living facility. It had dark hardwood floors and mercifully, nothing had been done to the kitchen or the bathroom, so it retained the beautiful, fifties style craftsmanship of patterned tiles and built-in cabinets.
And once again, I called the people at POD, who, by this point, knew me by name when my number came up.
I moved from the Little House From Hell in mid-January. I had a year’s lease and a dream, if not a plan, courtesy of my younger self.
I was going to be a working actor. Whether I wanted to or not.