Imagine a true Swiss Country girl with two suitcases and a backpack arriving in the big city of Los Angeles! Yup, I felt a little lost looking out the window of the plane as we were flying over the vastness of grey cement, cut by thousands of roads. Since I didn’t know anyone in Los Angeles I had hired a housing assistance service. A nice perky lady picked me up at the airport and then drove me around Santa Monica and adjacent city parts to look at rooms.
The first day we didn’t find anything suitable and I stayed the night at a cheap motel. And that’s where the fear and doubts became overwhelming and I ventured out to the nearest payphone to call my Mom and cry my eyes out. She told me I was being silly and probably just jet lagged and that I would be just fine the next day. She was right! The first place we went to look at I fell in love with and moved in that same afternoon.
The third day I went to Sears and bought myself a bike. I cycled around Santa Monica and familiarized myself with my route to the college, the way to the closest grocery store and all essential places to make myself feel more at home. While I found myself enjoying living five blocks from the beach, having several cute coffee shops at my fingertips and a huge roof deck at home where I could see the ocean if I stood up, I hadn’t quite arrived at that “home” feeling. I felt more like a guest on vacation, having to leave any minute.
I love history (not the war kind, the nitty gritty real life kind) and one day in my second week I came upon the small library a few blocks from my place. I went in and started to look for books on the history of Santa Monica. I found several and checked them all out. At home I settled in on the deck and immersed myself in the history of the place I now called home. That’s when I realized that Santa Monica and even Los Angeles weren’t big to begin with. They had very humble beginnings as a dot on a map, just like my tiny hometown back in Switzerland. That realization offered me so much comfort!
Now as I rode my bike through town I started recognizing old buildings and street names and it finally made me feel at home. I had discovered the soul of the city I now called home. Later I dove into the history of Hollywood and Los Angeles and doing so gave me a fondness for that vastness of cement, that I would not had gotten otherwise. Anytime I doubted that feeling of home, I would go to the the Pueblo in downtown Los Angeles, the place where it all started a long time ago.