Living in L.A.: Making up for lost time
When people first heard I was moving to L.A., the Number One question was, “Why L.A.?” followed closely by, “Do you have a job/apartment?”
Their often quizzical expressions to my “because I want to” and “no/no” let me know these were not the answers they were expecting from me.
In fairness, it was only half an answer.
“Because I want to get back to having a life” was the whole answer, but that seemed mean to imply that I wasn’t “living” at that moment. Don’t get me wrong – and if you’re a NorCal friend, don’t get all fired up – I had a good life in Davis.
I had a full-time job with awesome coworkers. I had a sweet little studio apartment within walking distance of work. I had top-rated restaurants and entertainment at the ready. I was an hour and 15 minutes from the beach and two hours from Lake Tahoe. But the time demanded of me by work did not allow me to rest and enjoy the many benefits.
I know, based on television and film, the life of a journalist is all glitz and glamour and full of six-figure paydays. Note: Television and film deal in fiction.
One benefit of being a sports editor (2002-2004) was being able to play golf. My deadline was 6:30 a.m. (Don’t ask.) I’d get up way before the crack of dawn, come into the office, finish my pages and then have nothing to do until 3:30 p.m. So I found myself wandering to the local nine-hole course and working on my short game.
My addiction grew and since my sleep schedule had me up early every day, I was able to get in nine holes before church, after work and sometimes at night (glow-in-the-dark golfing is a trip).
Then I went to China. No, I went to central China. No, to the Kansas of China. There was no golf. Shoot, there was no grass. My game suffered. I forgot how to play.
While China robbed me of golf, it gave me community; it gave me perspective – it gave me joy. It taught me to live a simple life, to leave work at work, to enjoy the moment.
Upon returning to the U.S., that has been my goal and I am putting it into practice here in L.A.
So, first things first, I’m golfing again.
When I moved L.A., I packed my 2006 Nissan Sentra with all the essentials: laptop, a suitcase with my clothes, a box with all my important papers, a stuffed pink hippo, a faux-autographed photo of Hugh Jackman (from my book clubbers) and my golf clubs.
Griffith Park has three golf courses: 18-hole courses Harding (Yelp rating: three and half stars, 21 reviews) and Wilson (three stars, 46) and nine-hole Roosevelt (four stars, 34). Roosevelt looks super nice and has a steepish price of $14. When money is not coming in, every dollar is precious, so this course will need to wait.
So, I drove 5 minutes east to the Los Feliz nine-hole course (three and half stars, 55). This is my kind of place. It’s a short course, longest hole is 134-yards. But best of all, it’s $5.50 Mondays through Thursdays. Fridays, the price goes up to $6.25 and look out – the weekend, it’s $7.
And since it was Thursday at 10 a.m., it was just me and a bunch of older golfers. Pretty safe bet that I was the youngest person out there.
Thankfully, my drive off the first tee was straight and flopped right on the green. It was the second-best shot of the round. There were 30-plus not-so-pretty shots, which translated to a not-so-pretty score on the par-27 course.
In my mind’s eye, I pictured being able to pick up where I left off before China. With my actual eyes, I saw this was not to be. For every one solid hit, I had four shanks, whiffs and toppers. It was not my finest hour, but it was one of my best hours.
I chatted with golfers waiting in the tee box; I made friends with Jose the waiter and I have an unofficial tee time with an elderly golfer, who “saw that drive off Number 9. Not bad.”
As I sat on the porch of the course diner sipping my Arnold Palmer, a rush of joy hit me.
This is why I moved to L.A. To get out of my comfort zone, to meet new people, to play a lousy round of golf.
Sure, eventually, I’ll get a job and I may no longer be able to get that 10 a.m. Thursday tee time. All that means is I’ll have to fork out a couple more dollars and play on the weekend.
But that’s okay because I’m quickly becoming a “regular” with my new community.
Jose, another Arnold Palmer, please.