On Sunlight and Old School Horses: Return to Los Angeles
I was on a bike ride in Sonoma, at a strange little bachelorette weekend, when the smell of eucalyptus and orange started following me. It followed me back to the overpriced spa where I and three other women I didn’t know were staying, mixing into the aroma of chlorine and white wine. I need to go home, I thought.
By “home” I meant Los Angeles. At the time I was living in Brooklyn, holding onto the notion that my childhood in Los Angeles had been a cosmic mistake. Angelenos were not my people. New Yorkers were: They read books, and didn’t try to talk me out of my depression. They didn’t care if I said hello or not.
My parents were not my people. When I forced myself to visit Los Angeles, my mother would find small ways to remind me that she never really liked me. There would be no food in the house, even when I came home for Thanksgiving. But on the counter would be a bag of fresh bagels. This seemed promising initially, until I discovered it contained only blueberry bagels, and cream cheese sprinkled with walnuts. Sometimes the bagels were strawberry, and sometimes the cream cheese had cranberries, but despite the variation, the bagels were always a way for my mother to make fun of my escape to New York.
Predictably, I would burst into tears. I know a blueberry bagel is nothing to cry about. I know I’m lucky that I had a home to visit and two parents who at least, if nothing else, existed. But the bagels were just one of many ways my mother reminded me that ever since I was a young child, her favorite pasttime was to get a rise out of me. She is the original troll.
There was the time I had to retrieve my teddy bear from the kid across the street, after my mother had given it away, announcing that I was too old for stuffed animals. I was three. There were the countless times that I was left completely, and utterly alone — my father at work, my mother locked behind her bedroom door. If I knocked, desperate for someone to talk to me, the door would never open. Instead I would be met with a faraway yell: Why do you ask so many questions? I was four. There were the times I would hyperventilate from crying too hard, and my mother would pretend to also…