Saturday, October 7, 2017

Good friends are hard to find

When you find 'em, you keep 'em.

I made my peace with LA on December, 6th of 2015. That was the day I returned after moving away six years ago. I swore I would never go back to the city, but cheap airfare tempted me and I am glad it did. Over the past few years I have grown to love LA, and now it has become my routine to go there at least twice a year.

When I go there now, I never relive old memories from my teenage years; I make new memories. I never visit the many friends and acquaintances I know still live there; I do my own thing instead. I never eat at the same restaurants I frequented in my youth; better ones exist now. I spend almost all my time at new cafes and art exhibits which I never saw in the mid-2000s.

Pretty much all my trips have been like this, with one exception. There was one friend from my life in LA who pretty much defined my existence there. That was Emma. We met at work in Orange County and spent pretty much every single weekend shopping at the Goodwill in Huntington Beach, eating Japanese food in Costa Mesa, or bouncing from one house party to the next all over the OC. After she moved back to Osaka, and I left LA for Portland, we kept in touch over the years and had many more adventures together, in Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, and Seoul. But we had yet to re-live our adventures in California….

2007: Emma and I, connoisseurs of fine fur


Even though the LA I knew has changes so much over the years and I am no longer nostalgic for it, I still dreamed about seeing Emma again in LA and going experiencing this whole new city with her. Finally, in May of 2017, we had just that chance.

2007: Emma and I, amazing by the selection at Vietnamese grocery stores

I made a point to only show her places in LA she had never seen. I knew that many of the places we had experienced nine years ago were obsolete, and I wanted her to see the new city I had fallen in love with.

I made a point to stay in Koreatown, not just because I personally love that place, but it was in a very convenient relative to our itinerary and I knew she had never been there. We reserved this awesome airbnb which matched our style and was in a perfectly walkable location.

Day 1 was spent in downtown LA, where Emma had only passed through during the five years she lived in OC. We visited Verve Coffee, The Broad museum, Grand Central Market, Bottega Louie, and Hauser and Wirth Gallery – all of which opened up after we both moved out of California.

Verve Coffee

The Broad

Mexican food at Grand Central Market

French patisserie at Bottega Louie

Hauser and Wirth Gallery

Day 2 was spent exploring Silver Lake with friends from Japan. Neither of us knew them in California, so even hanging out with them in this setting was new and original. We shopped for clothes at a farmers market, various thrift stores, and my favorite Squaresville store in Los Feliz. We also had coffee at Bia Café, brunch at Bowery Bungalow, and an amazing dinner at Perch in downtown.

Hanging around town

Brunch at the Bowery Bungalow

Sunset at Perch Restaurant, best view in DTLA

Day 3 was spent at the Pasadena Rose bowl, then for a delicious lunch at Senior Fish, and saying some final goodbyes before I left for LAX. Emma stayed one more day after I departed, and while I was at the airport she sent me this photo from Redondo Beach with a message: “I'm so thankful I got to live here.” It seems to capture the essence of our trip: gratitude.

Redondo Beach, the last photo Emma sent me before I left LA

Thanks LA, for making us who we are today.

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