I often dream I am living back on the west coast. In my dreams I am usually driving from the airport to my last residence in Venice Beach. In my dream I say to myself, “It is for real this time. I am back here. Wow…” While living in California I lived a feeeew different places and made so many good friends. A brief rundown… 🌊
My first home was the Kings River in Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park. While this home was short lived it was my first home out there. During my brief stay I camped along the river with other white water students. We trained all day in the freezing cold water and at night we would peel off our wetsuits and attempt to dry them on a clothes line but it was April and the weather was rainy, damp and cold! After taking care of rafts and other equipment we would cook together, play music and just have a load of fun! My plan was to live on the river and be a guide. That was the whole reason for me leaving everything and everyone in Ohio. A new life, new adventure and away from the monotony. However things did not quite work out the way I had so meticulously planned. Do they ever? After an accident on the water during white water guide school I moved to Los Angeles. Not wanting to go back to Ohio a couple weeks after I arrived I searched a newly popular website called Craigslist and I found my first job in L.A.
My second home was on an air mattress in a very small studio apartment in Hollywood. A gal I met during guide school lived in L.A. and offered me a place to crash until I could find a job and a place to live. For about a week it was her, her boyfriend, their dog and myself in a space about the size of a Prius. She took me around Hollywood to show me the sight and we had lunch at the famous Hollywood Canteen. She was an aspiring actress and was going from audition to audition but she was kind enough to show me around.
After about a week or two I Ianded a job taking care of a cute elderly couple in Brentwood Glen. They were grounded members of their community and I learned a lot from them. With them I was able to go to movies at the Writers Guild Theater, learn about old t.v. and radio and soak in their stories of L.A. from long ago. Unfortunately after a month the wife’s care exceeded what one person could handle.
So my third home was yet another brief stay at the home of a nice lady who was my relief caregiver on the two days from taking care of the elderly couple. I had two days where I would get ten hours off each. I wish I could remember her name as she was so kind to me. She had been a caregiver for a long time and knew that the couple were going to need more help than the son wanted to pay for. So after the job ended she offered me a spare bedroom in her beautiful Pasadena apartment. I loved everything about Pasadena except for the fact that is far from the beach, time wise..lol. I remember she listened to smooth jazz and that on a couple of occasions I accompanied her down to Mexico to see her dentist in Tijuana. Health care was much cheaper there at that time and she paid out of pocket 😳. I stayed there about a month until I found…
Venice Vibe Tribe. But first…I scoured the Craigslist roommate search and went to check out a couple of apartments. I almost took a place right by LAX and I am so glad I didn’t because the next place I checked was pure freaking magic! I called a number and a man answered, “Venice Vibe Tribe this is Bobby.” The ad said there was a one bedroom for rent but it turns out it was one bedroom in a commune. Bobby was very cool and kind. When he told me the single room had been rented out but there were some bunks available I kindly declined. He said you seem like a chill gal from the midwest and we’d love to have that energy here. Plus he like the fact that by that point I was working back in health care and I was some one trying to “make it in the business”to He said just come visit before I make a decision and so I did.
I arrived at an address on Penmar Ave in Venice Beach. It was a normal looking house in a quirky residential neighborhood. A neighbor down the street had a house completely covered in mosaic tiles. Bobby answered the door and I couldn’t believe the place. It was light and airy, musical instruments were hanging on the the living room walls and white see through curtains were blowing in the breeze. The kitchen was very clean with a beautiful blue tiled countertop and burnt orangish/red Spanish clay tile floors. The living room was small but organized. Then Bobby took me through small but wide hallway that han one set of bunk beds on the left, a massage table (someone’s bed) and one other set of bunk beds on the right that were covered with privacy curtains like you’d have on a tour bus. Though this hallway I was led into the bunk room. The bunk room had about six or seven bunk beds. From there there was a patio door that led out to the backyard. Set up on the concrete patio backyard were pods. About four pods that were 8×8 approximately and covered with canvas. One person per pod and they were coveted because they were private. The mocking bird that lived in tree above the pods was a cute but a very annoying neighbor…hahaha. 🤣
Needless to say I was in awe of everything. Coming from Ohio I was quite giddy about trying something totally new. I was so excited to be out of the normal humdrum of suburban boredom. Living in a commune were everyone held day jobs (it was a requirement) and everyone pitched in, worked on the house together, cooked meals together, lived together, hungout and really just vibed together was such an enormous gift. Instead of living with one roommate, I had 18 new roommates. Everything was provided as far as paper products, staples like coffee, tea sugar, towels, basic toiletries and so forth. I had spot in the fridge designated for my food. While living here I did yoga on a roof top in Venice right on the ocean while staring at a massive Jim Morrison mural on the neighboring building, I went on movie picnics at the Hollywood cemetery, I went to my first and only party in the Hollywood Hills and I met a man that as soon as our eyes met I just knew was going to be in my life… (that is a whole other story). There is way more to the commune then I am writing now but let just say that it was a magical time. I didn’t even smoke the pot that was sold out of an antique dresser in the side hallway! Hahaha…
But after six months in the commune when tensions were incredibly high and as some were preparing costumes and floats for Burning Man, I decided it was time to leave the nest that I so appreciated and look for somewhere new.
5th and Rose Ave. I moved about 3 minutes west of Penmar and 5 block from the Pacific Ocean in cool house in the best location. In 2006 Venice was still an artist community and had a very transient vibe. Rose Ave was lined with well lived in R.V.’s with license plates from all over the country. Right on my corner was a little store called La Fiesta Brava and it made the BEST guacamole in town. Just to the east a few blocks right before you got to Lincoln Blvd. (I would never live east of Lincoln 😉) was La Cabana. This place had the BEST margaritas! All within a few blocks was the best guacamole, margaritas, Ground Works coffee that made a delicious cup of coffee and sold homemade licorice, Whole Foods and Rose Cafe. The best part is that when I would wake up I would stroll down to the beach with coffee in hand and watch the dolphins swim with the surfers. My three roommates were all formers dwellers of Venice Vibe Tribe. Once was a musician, another a chiropractor and the other was a barista with side job at a radio station. It was good times as well. This place was a much more laid back or maybe I should say much quieter version of the commune. Still too poor to afford a place of my own so close to the ocean I needed roommates. This place worked well until I had the urge to move again. This time north to San Francisco. But I am not done with Venice Beach yet as I’ll return a couple of years later.
To be continued..
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll