December 6, 2011

Overnight in the 90210

So, in my last post I wrote about my love for road trip and day trips.  But I wasn't going to write about this particular overnight trip, because first, it took a long time for me to process, and second, after processing, it was clearly such an epic fail.  And it was all my fault.

In late September, I decided to spend the night away from home, all by myself, in Beverly Hills. Doesn't that sound lovely, all black and white like that on the screen? I was prompted to do this by the publication of the Design Sponge book, the book that sprang from the hugely popular blog of the same name.  The blog's creator and book author, Grace Bonney, would be in Beverly Hills, signing copies of her book at Anthropologie.  Listed out, it sounded perfect: Design Sponge,  book signing, Anthopologie! A chance to visit my native and beloved Los Angeles county! (To be fair, I grew up way east of the hip Westside area, but still.)   It all sounded like a great excuse to have a night away, a "just for me" 24 hours away from my usual role of wife-and-stay-at-home-mom.

Somehow, it all went wrong.  It felt wrong, and pointless. I wasted gas money, and the money for a nice hotel. When it was all over, I didn't feel rested or relaxed or any of those things that a break from routine is supposed to instill.  

It took nearly three hours to arrive at my hotel.  (It should've taken less than two, but I encountered an accident, and that slow-down put me near downtown L.A. at evening rush-hour.)   After checking into the Hyatt Regency in Century City, I had just enough time to freshen my make-up and check out the room, before leaving again for the book signing.

I got a little lost finding the Anthropologie, which was only 15 minutes away, but I don't know the area well. It was  dark, and there were plenty of one-way streets and wide TMZ tour buses to avoid.  I went too far north, crossed Santa Monica Blvd., and ended up in a neighborhood of jaw-dropping, palatial homes.  I was instantly pitched into that sickening house/neighborhood lust that I know is wrong, but feels so decadent to indulge in. Like a box of frosted, sprinkled, creme-filled donuts: Mmmmm. And then, ugh. 

At the Anthropolgie, I wandered around admiring all the cute boots and shoes on every single woman there.  (I was feeling pretty nifty myself, in my dark purple tights and grey ankle boots.)  I hadn't eaten lunch, it was dinner time, and I was starving. I took a free cupcake from the catered dessert bar, and stood in line to get my book signed.  I had absolutely nothing pithy or witty or relevant to say to Ms. Bonney when I handed over my book, beyond "Thank You!"

I wandered around the store.  I found nothing I wanted to buy, and yet wanted everything.  Anything.  Dinner?   Where to eat, by myself, at nearly 8pm?  I felt drained, and not up to tackling a search for some posh, small cafe.  Instead I went next door to the California Pizza Kitchen, and got a spinach pizza to go.  Took it back to my room,  ate the whole damn thing and fell asleep to the late news.
 In the morning, I woke up intending to do some writing.  I was working on an essay that I'd begun a week earlier, writing it out, as usual, on a yellow legal pad. I was several hand-written pages into it, and was about to get to the "good part," the crux, the crucial moment when all is explained.   I couldn't find my legal pad.  I knew I'd packed it. Perhaps it was left down in the car?  

A perfect morning-alone breakfast would've been crepes or eggs benedict at some funky little joint.  Instead, I bought  a latte and muffin at the house Starbucks, went back up to my room, and felt restless.   I watched an hour of the Dr. Conrad Murray trial.  I did another thorough search for my legal pad, tearing apart the bed, looking in every drawer that I'd never opened.   It's yellow! How could it be missing?  I packed up and checked out. In my car, I did another search.  No legal pad.  I started to feel sick to my stomach. 
My burgeoning essay, the first I'd tried to tackle in years, was gone.  Gone.  It's still gone.  Gone like the money spent on the faceless, corporate Hyatt Regency (though I saved quite a lot by using Priceline), gone like the time spent on three different freeways, a five hour total round trip.  My legal pad has never turned up.  I haven't tried re-starting the essay again.

I downloaded the picture of myself off my camera that was taken against the cute, crafty chalkboard backdrop, adjacent to the book-signing area at the Anthropologie.  I didn't look so nifty. I looked waist-less and hulking with my huge shoulders and upper arms, clutching my copy of Design Sponge in front of me.  I haven't finished perusing all the sections of the book quite yet.
Seeing the cover  brings it all back again.  If there's any moral or takeaway from this trip, it's something thine own self be true.  I had mixed feeling about staying in faceless Century City to begin with.  All along, I'd craved something cozier and more intimate. Instead, from the Hyatt, to the Anthro, to the CPK pizza, to the Starbucks breakfast, it was all one big corporate, logo-filled disaster.  My trip was faceless, and at the end, I was not restored to my "true self."  I myself felt faceless, and stripped of something essential, besides the legal pad.

I've had precious few nights spent completely by myself, since becoming a wife and  mom.  There have been weekends with my husband, and nights crashed at friends homes, but that trip to the 90210 is one of the few I've spent truly alone.   I relished the solitude. I'm a loner, and an introvert, and I wasn't gone long enough to really miss anyone.  Next time, I'm doing it right.  I'm going to stay here. And I'll consider long and hard before choosing either the Oak Terrace Room (2 balconies!) or the Tree House Room (tree house!).  I'll scribble on my legal pad in my room above the trees, and dine at somewhere small and fine, and come home to my family restored, and feeling like a better person. Not feeling like I need to burrow, and lick my wounds, and retreat somewhere deep and quiet to remember who I am.   Next time.

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