October 15, 2010

A Getaway Within a Getaway

"What's in LA?" people kept asking me when they heard I was going back.

"A client. Potential clients. Maybe a job," I said, and I meant it. But those were only my justification for the cost of the travel, figuring the benefit of securing a new client would outweigh the cost of the (cheap) flight, car rental, food, and - unfortunately this time - hotel.

But at the time that I booked my trip, moving to Queens made me want to return to LA more than ever before. To see the Los Angelenos that I've become quite attached to... To find work. To go somewhere. To seek out another time, another town, another everything...

Since then, I feel a bit better about my move to Queens, a change of scenery I desperately needed, and one that has rejuvenated me in surprising ways.

But I was still eager to get back to LA.

To save on costs, I booked a room at a place called The Circle in Culver West, the residential area to the southwest of lovely and historic Culver City, just north of Marina del Rey (sort of by LAX airport) and inland from Venice Beach.

For $50/night, staying at one of the customized "rooms" at the The Circle is like being dropped into another time or another town within LA. It is so quiet, save for the gravel crunching beneath your feet and the rustling of a raccoon in the bushes.

The front entrance - next to a parked Greyhound Bus that has been converted into a private cottage - encourages visitors to Create, Meditate, and Celebrate - exactly the kind of place I need right now, and so familiar to me after my time spent out in Joshua Tree.

I originally booked the cheapest room, billed as the "Modern Cave," which turns out to be an inground pool (or as the owner Sanni calls it, a fish pond) that's been covered. Sanni's kids' toys are strewn about The Cave's roof, and during the day they're usually found playing on top of it.

l-r: Treehouse, Floating Bed room, main house, The Cave (in lower right corner)

When I arrived, Sammi graciously put me in The Treehouse - a nicer (and taller) accommodation which happened to be vacant during my stay. In fact, the whole place was vacant during my stay, save for Sanni and her family, and their cuddly dog Lucy.

 The Treehouse

The Treehouse is a strange wooden spaceship built on stilts above another fish pond with a canoe and a fountain. Overlooking the backyard, one of the walls literally folds down and out into the meditative garden (something that would have been great during LA's recent heat wave, but it was too cold and overcast while I was here).

Immediately upon my arrival, I cast all my New York City hangups aside, and just let myself be. No lock on my door? Fine. People can see me change if I prop my window open? So what. Ants are crawling on the desk? They'll leave eventually. I have to tiptoe through the backyard in a towel to get to the bathroom and outdoor shower? Yes!

This place is not for everybody, but in many ways, it's just what I needed. I needed to not care when I saw a mouse scurry under the bathroom door, or along the power lines above my treehouse (which isn't actually in a tree). I needed a safe, quiet, cheap, clean place to stay where I could be alone only when I wanted to, and not feel lonely.

And now I leave LA today after the shortest trip I've spent here all year. A surefire way for me to hate New York is by leaving New York and then coming back. I hope I reacclimate quickly.

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