I left Santa Barbara on Thursday, heading for the places I’d lived as a child, not exactly intentionally but because those places were on my path anyway. My first stop was more of a drive-by. After buying gas in Pasadena, I made a 2-mile detour south to San Marino, where I lived as a teenager. Rich, conservative San Marino was an unlikely place for us, neither rich nor conservative, but we survived the John Birch Society, the cops who trolled the likes of us in Lacey Park, and being the only family without a gardener.
Springtime in Los Angeles is gorgeous — blue skies, puffy cumulus clouds, bright orange poppies, lush green hills. Every once in awhile, you smell the syrupy perfume of orange blossoms. The traffic is famously slow on freeways that seem to go nowhere but a lot of the cars are awfully nice. Although my first loyalty is to my geographic soul mate in the north, I feel very comfortable here and even a little nostalgic. Disneyland. Vin Sculley. Olvera Street. Surfer boys. Palm trees.