Travel: i is my favourite thing to do. In fact, it is probably what most of my life revolves around. I work to afford meals at Ledbury and Le Bernardin, to rent AirBnBs. My idea of travel differs wildly by the day. I swing from wanting to explore new places to just wanting to revisit my old favourites. There is a reason why we visit Los Angeles at least once a year. I can’t leave California for too long before my heart begins to ache. In fact, it pretty much aches all year round for the bit of it I always leave behind in the Golden State. Every time we get a break; when we start planning a trip away... it is almost automatic, unspoken. We start looking for flights that take us to LAX.
There are several things we always do in Los Angeles: visit Anaheim (for sports, our favourite taco joint and our favourite wine bar), spend an afternoon in Malibu, and spend a lot of time in our neighbourhood of Venice. I do a lot of yoga at my local studio (Love Yoga - the LA equivalent of my favourite NYC studio Sky Ting) and I drink coffee and read The New York Times from cover to cover. It is still the only paper I love reading - I associate holding the physical copy with travelling somewhere exciting. You can’t get a physical copy of the paper in Australia.
Each LA visit holds new wonders. Recently we’ve taken up the quintessential Californian hobby: hiking. We get up early, catch a Lyft to the start of a trail that I researched the night before, hike to the top and then back down. We then hunt for a good lunch spot in the general vicinity before catching another Lyft back to our favourite Venice wine bar for a Lambrusco (me) and cider (him). It’s not groundbreaking, but that’s not why I go to Los Angeles. I visit to have a little snapshot of what my life would look like if I lived there. The coast is gorgeous in Malibu, the surf watching is good and there are good hikes in the area. I can spend an afternoon lying on the beach reading a book.
It is my favourite place in the world. I can’t explain it. The Prius-filled constant traffic is a con, but is just part of what makes LA feel so much larger than life. It is a feeling I don’t get from any other major city in the world. Not even New York.
When I was fourteen I started writing fiction on the internet. And I picked a pseudonym. People still ask where I got “Callie” from, and it is a name based off a state. Taken from a now-defunct TV show set in that state (no, not The OC). The day I first met the other half, we had a conversation about our mutual love of Santa Monica. His alarm tone was California Love for months upon months. I woke up to it every morning.
I know that there must be a reason why the Star Spangled Banner is still the only national anthem I know by heart. And a reason why I cry every time I hear it. Why my heart unravels in California. It feels like home in a way that I have never felt anywhere else. And I do not - cannot - believe that this lifelong attachment to a state halfway across the world has grown for nothing. One day, I know - somehow - LA will stop being that distant second home I visit on a visa waiver program, but will be my home for real.
I watch the movie every time I fly into LAX. Twice, really. I watch it once through upon take-off from Perth and then again when the plane reaches its destination. I dread the day it disappears from the entertainment systems. I hated the movie at first - I watched it outdoors and the volume was too soft, the nuances missed. But it is so much of what I love about LA. The bigness of it. The city of big dreamers. So few come true, and it hurts my heart. But I am a dreamer too. It is a city that calls to all the parts of me that wishes and hopes for a big life.