My eyes did not see Christmas in Silverlake today. Sure, the houses were tied with ubiquitous streams of coloured tinsel, Santa was depicted on many 2D plastic signs and Cable TV had a 24hour Xmas channel, devoted to a picture of a roaring fire, with seasonal tunes played on a loop, but I didn’t FEEL Christmassy at all.
Ok, so it is about the birth of Christ and how can you feel that? I’m happy Christ was born everyday of the week, so today doesn’t feel any different in that respect. I didn’t want the blanket of snow or the freezing temperatures of my homeland but it didn’t seem right to be out jogging around a reservoir with the sun blazing and wearing a paper thin t-shirt. There were no shared greetings and ho, ho, ho wishes exchanged between strangers, rubbing their hands together in unspoken solidarity against natures freeze, no cozy country lanes or twisting ancient cobbleways. No windows with enticing glowing yellow hues to brighten up the streets on short days. The TV didn’t have Terry Wogan, or the Queen’s Speach at 3pm, or Chris Evans, Ant and Dec or re-runs of Only Fools and Horses. None of which I watch but it is a comfort to know they are there.
I decided to treat it like a day as any other. Easy to do with the lack of festive cheer evident, I did try to start a trend by lashing a few Merry Christmasses at passers by but I just confused them. After lunch I walked along the near-deserted streets to Los Feliz and the old-time Vista cinema, decorated with Cleopatra statues and designed with wide gangways that would be great on a plane but bloody annoying as I couldn’t throw my legs to rest on the chair in front of me. Only one auditorium and the billing was True Grit, with Jeff Bridges. I lost myself in the dusty, Wild West whilst wishing Mr Bridges would refrain from mumbling his lines. Even the audience in the theatre made me feel alien. Noticeably audible, they reacted with canned laughter and clapped at the end. I felt I was watching a stage production.
Around the corner from the cinema was a chinese massage place. I was amazed it was open for business. I decided to treat myself and my entrance woke up the Chinese massuese, relaxing on one of the couches. I booked half and hour and let her set to work needling the soles of my feet with her bony fingers and digging her thumbs along the longitude of my shins.
Curiously, I didn’t feel lonely. My sister had set me on a good course that morning, reading me hilarious (makes a change!, not for sis to be funny but for the cracker jokes to acutally cause mirth) cracker jokes like…what do you call a train full of professors?……….A tube of Smarties (I guess you need to be English for that one). I was nearly sick laughing. My sister’s cackle, more bawdy than my own, making it far funnier than it was.
The Casbah Cafe had opened its doors for business back at Sunset Junction, so I passed fifteen minutes, feeling a bit zoned out, cradling a yerba mate before walking home. I had to collect my washing from the house above my rented studio, the tenant (a wakeboard champ turned actress) had a friend over. No tree twinkled in a darkened corner, no Xmas cards made the room look untidy but it was inviting and the small fluffy dog thing named Apollo had made an effort in a red and white Santa tunic. I guess Americans seem to be inviting all year round, they don’t leave it for the ‘season of goodwill’. We chatted, about work and our desires…the usual kind of thing and I hung out until my tummy rumbled. Xmas dinner was a frozen enchilada, zapped with radio waves & salad balanced on my lap infront of the Cooking Channel. I missed my house, felt nostalgic for my roasted veggies, vegan sausages and comforting root vegetable mash with rivers of gravy. I missed rich, tongue sticking, Christmas pudding and custard. I missed my family & friends and the Sussex countryside, but I was still happy to be here… with my other love…the USA. Last year, I vowed I would never spend another Christmas single again. I dreamed in 2010 I’d be with my ‘forever’ man. Funny, this year I’ve discovered I don’t need that anymore. The relief makes me feather light.
The rain kept me inside after dinner. I drew up some new lists on scrappy bits of paper to figure out whether the pull for South America is greater than the fear of unfamilar tongue, of wilderness and cities unchartered. America is easy, maybe it is time to push the comfortzone out a little more and find out what South Americans do differently. I think I’ll sleep on it. As Scarlett O’Hara wistfully spoke to a rose-tinted lens…’tomorrow is another day’.