Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My House is Better Than Good Enough

The wedding in Bel Air was at what can safely, I think, be called a mansion. It had a movie screening room. It had a library. It had amazing artwork inside. There was topiary art outside. It was on top of hill surrounded by even bigger, unbelievably huge, estates. I have no idea how big it was because I only saw a small part of it. The pre-dinner cocktails were served on a balcony upstairs because the balcony was BIG ENOUGH for all of the guests.

Some of those guests were (clearly) extremely wealthy. Some of them were from the movie industry; some were from other industries. One woman--a beautiful blond in a stunning and glittery dress--looked slightly familiar (an actress, perhaps?), but I couldn't place her, so perhaps it was just my imagination. But what I also noticed about her was the similarity between her face and the faces of some of the other guests--a similarity of physiognomy that seemed to stem from plastic surgery.

L.A. is a strange place, and when I go there, I feel like a stranger in a strange land. When we arrived at our hotel, I heard the concierge talking to a thin, tan couple who said they were looking to have dinner at a stylish place with good food. I didn't hear the restaurants he recommended, but I did hear his suggestion that they walk down Rodeo Drive for some shopping and then have drinks at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

A few minutes later, my husband and I asked the concierge for some dinner recommendations, maybe something close enough to walk to. He recommended the food court at the mall across the street.

Really? The food court? I know I still had my car clothes on, but did I look THAT bad? Panda Express was the best we could hope for? We probed a bit further, and got a great recommendation, but the food court suggestion stung a bit and reinforced my feelings of being a mere mortal in the City of Angels.

My husband and I ogled the Bel Air house and ahhhed at all of its features. But Sunday night, when we got home, put the kids to bed, and settled in to watch the Olympic closing ceremony, we realized that we would not trade our house for the Bel Air house. First, we wouldn't want to live in L.A. But beyond that, I think I might get lost in a house like that. Or I would feel too far away from family members who were thousands of square feet aware from me in another wing of the mansion. My house is 1300 square feet. My two kids love (at this point) sharing a room. If I had a bigger house, I'd just gather more crap. Okay, so maybe I'd love to have a little library/study of my own (or perhaps a sunroom), but I can't imagine family life in the Bel Air house.

My husband and I always talk about how much we like our house, but I was amazed and thrilled to realize that I would not trade it for a mansion in Bel Air. My house is not only good enough; it's great. And it's home. It's not big and beautiful, and I can't dash out for drinks at the Beverly Wilshire, but I'm happy enough to sit in my living room with a sandwich and a beer watching PBS on a 10-year old TV (no plasma or flat screen yet!), which gets its three channels through the antenna on top of the house. Ain't life grand?


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you went with your own "style." It suits you best.

If it's any consolation, I've had concierges do the same thing to me, especially in NY and even more so now that I've picked up a hint of a southern accent. I noticed it in Hawaii some when people responded to Shane, then to me. I clipped my accent and added the throaty pigeon-speak of locals and got a different response.

And I love your house. It's comfortable and in a great location. There's always something going on. You let me cook or clean or do whatever I want. It's welcoming. It is grand indeed, with all three channels!

baxie said...

bigger house = more shit to clean.

M. Paule said...

I've stumbled upon your blog through Inktopia and find myself enthralled.

I, too, am a PhD grad student - but not yet on my diss. Still studying for generals and have absolutely no idea how you have time for children and a degree.

So I have the strange feeling that I'll be working my way through your archives for the foreseeable future instead of spending as much time as I should on my own work.

But why, why is Augustan History so dreadfully dull?