I learned two years ago that when my grandmother gave birth to her first child, my mother, she lived in a building at 1618 Vista Del Mar, right down the street from where I live now. The fact that my mother’s first home on earth was in Hollywood, just a few minute’s walk from the apartment where her daughter would live over a half century later is amazing to me. We’re from Utah. We know mountains and rivers and snow.
Hollywood, City of Dreams, with its constant din of noise and light, its coyote-filled hills, its imported cars and palm trees, A-list Lounges, and sordid motels, is not our territory. It’s been so printed and re-printed, it’s like a poster that you can walk around in. Yet, as it turns out, we’ve got roots here. My grandmother, going into to labor with my mom, took the bus by herself from her apartment to the hospital on Mid-Wilshire – that’s putting down roots.
|1618 Vista Del Mar|
After all, I’ve got roots here: in front of the medical bills grows a cluster of journal entries that I wrote during my treatment for thyroid cancer. I’ve been tearing the entries out of the journal, because its pages are graphed, and I can’t stand writing on such regimented lines. I’ve been saving them in the organizer, where they obscure the bills. Their edges are torn and frayed, having had a difficult time releasing from the bookbinding. I’ve always had a soft spot for torn paper with its sharp edges turned cloudy. My notes, in addition to being hand-written, are usually scrawled upon torn scraps, their imperfect form reminding me of nature - of mountains, rivers, and snowflakes tacked to the bulletin board above my desk in Hollywood.
After living here for two years, I’d grown to like the neighborhood for its contradictions and justifications, but learning of the nearness of my mother's infant years caused me to love it with a fierce protectiveness. Finding the actual building in which she had lived, still tucked behind that sprawling parking lot south of the sidewalk that is tiled with celebrity names, under the unremitting lights of Hollywood and Vine, was a real full-circle moment. My adoptive city was no longer adoptive – it was a part of me, and while navigating its roads from hardship to health, I had become a part of it.