They say you can’t go home again, but you can certainly try. And have fun doing it.
My desire to live in Los Angeles began when I was in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. This was almost a quarter of a century ago, when Crocodile Dundee was a big hit and Australia was hot. I was working on feature stories for a couple months. My home was the very tropical city of Cairns, so far away from civilization, it was much closer to New Guinea than Sydney. The moment I realized I wasn’t a tourist, paradise was lost.
I lived next to a guy who occasionally hit his wife. I gave wifey Nora Ephron’s Heartburn to read. Amazingly, she tried the recipes. Lovely woman. My vehicle was a Land Rover with the steering wheel and stick shift on the wrong sides. My backyard was a rainforest and sugar cane fields. I worked on a tiny newspaper slapped together. When I said that wasn’t how The New York Times would do it, I was told, “This isn’t The New York Times.” True.
I befriended the neighborhood dogs and I watched L.A. Law religiously. How I wished I could live the life; and have earnest, gorgeous Harry Hamlin (waaay before Lisa Rinna) give me that look and tell me I was the one.
The goal was to make my way to LA. That happened through a series of jobs. One was where I met the guy I recently visited in India. He was my boss at a TV news show I worked on in Sydney. From there, I returned to New York.
Then a job opened up at a start-up LA news operation. I got it and moved from Brooklyn to Marina del Rey, California, solely because of the marina view from the library.
I was there for almost 10 years. The only time I left was to help start up MSNBC in New York City. But I missed the Marina so much, I rented an apartment overlooking New York Harbor. Uptown New Yorkers made fun of this dowdy part of town. I didn’t care. I needed my water.
After a year, I got another job in TV and returned to LA and the same boxy studio I lived in in the Marina. I missed it that much.
It was the only place I ever lived where I didn’t feel like escaping on weekends. And one of the few places in LA where it was possible to get around on foot. I’d go to the beach, walk to said library, supermarket and movies.
Then I met my partner, Mitch, ummmm, online. Being that there’s Match.com, eHarmony, Facebook, etc., I don’t feel so embarrassed about this anymore. We met on an Internet discussion group (pre-blog days) about Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I found it by accident while searching for more background information on her.
I worked part-time at the talk-radio station that made her famous. At the time I thought she made a lot of common sense. I asked her to autograph a Newsweek (when it was still Newsweek) article — one of the first break-out stories about her. I wanted to frame it.
To my surprise, she gave me an autographed picture because she didn’t like the Newsweek article.
I couldn’t believe it. Seems to me, if this Laura Schlessinger had called the one on the radio, Dr. Laura would have told her to be a bigger person, put her feelings about the article aside, and just autograph it to make a station colleague happy.
So one day I was surfing the Internet when I should have been doing something constructive, and that’s when I came across the Dr. Laura discussion group. I was fascinated to see I wasn’t the only one who’d soured on her.
That’s how I virtually stumbled across Mitch. He was funny; he was a lawyer; said he lived somewhere between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Since I went to college in Philly, I again confess: I did something I’d never done before — I sent him an email and told him I liked his writing.
Next thing, we were talking on the phone all the time, and then we met sooner than planned. My mother passed away, and I met him in the Philly area the day after her funeral. He took my hand over tea at Borders and expressed his sympathy.
After years of living for career and bad schedules, I wanted a real relationship. With a mensch. Was that so much to ask? I tried the LA dating scene, meeting nebbishes who were holding out for Sarah Michelle Gellar. I’m not kidding.
Another guy was a poor man’s Hugh Hefner. He had parties at his Hollywood manse, located on the very wrong side of 90210. He hyped the place as a “Bohemian lair”, rented it out for arty movie shoots (uh-huh), and hosted parties with a cover charge. In truth, it was a dump in need of a garage sale, and he was as dusty and musty as his chachkas.
Still another was in the news biz like me, but was a serial dater. I found out from reading a diary he conveniently had on his nightstand that he liked me for my Mazda Miata (Huh?). No more rides with him.
Mitch — whom I’ve been with for more than a decade — but who’s counting — always tells me I’m beautiful. Even when I’m not. He’s my BFF and AAGG (all-around good guy.) And he was never wowed by the Miata. Said it was a tin can, and was glad when I finally got a real car — an Acura.
Only thing was, I had to move to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from the Marina. That was hard.
Next: How I ended up on a luxury yacht, across the street from where I used to live.