California Here We Come

Last weekend Alan and I combined a business trip to our firm’s L.A. office with some personal fun. We both needed to meet with folks in our L.A. office and we also had received an invitation to the wedding of our friend Keefe’s daughter Aleea in Santa Barbara We have known Aleea since she was a small child. We decided to go to the wedding, then to our L.A. office and then spend one extra day just for ourselves, enjoying the sunny weather, walking the beach and eating well. Mission accomplished.

We left on Friday, the day after my chemo. Frankly, on Thursday I questioned whether I would be well enough to go – the chemo was brutal this time, but I will write about that later. As usual, though, when I woke up on Friday I felt rejuvenated, although tired from the chemo ordeal. We traveled to L.A with Sara, who was going to stay with her friend Annabelle from her Boston University days and with whom she lived when she first moved to L.A. for the two years she lived there. Alan and I rented a car for the drive to Santa Barbara, where the wedding was to occur the next night. As usual, traffic in and out of L.A. was horrible. It is not the birthplace of road rage for nothing. Traffic was bad much of the way to Santa Barbara. What should have been a trip that took less than two hours turned into an over three hour trip. Luckily I slept for about an hour of the trip. Poor Alan had the stress of driving. He said if he had to deal with this traffic every day he would likely have a heart attack. It is always like this. There is no pattern and there are back-ups every day, every hour, even on weekends, sometimes for no reason you can fathom. There is just too much population for the roads they have, the freeways do not have service drives and so back up the surface streets, the main surface streets have lots of lights and are not like Woodward or Telegraph here, and there are few options to escape the traffic. The weather and natural beauty, however, are amazing.

In Santa Barbara we had booked a B&B called The Cheshire Inn. Although Alan is somewhat leary of B&Bs and kept teasing that the lovely photos on line were probably take 15 years ago when it was last renovated, he ate his words and told me he loved the Inn. The place was lovely, our room was large and beautiful, with a kitchenette, kitchen table, couch, chair, balcony and attached bath. The gardens were beautiful. When we arrived they were serving wine and hor d’oeuvres in the garden, including homemade cheese crisps, and there was delicious and caloric homemade shortbread in our room. Breakfast was included and was served in the garden area. It included a full continental breakfast and hot entrees, all delicious. Lovely place. The owner recommended a few restaurants and we picked one for dinner, where I proceeded to eat my entire salmon meal, to Alan’s surprise. He could not believe I could eat that meal after being so, so sick the three days before. That is the pattern for me, and I am happy I quickly rebound, albeit while still feeling wiped out physically from the chemo.

The next day we met Keefe at lunch, walked around town, and then went to the wedding. The wedding ceremony was in the chapel at the Santa Barbara Mission – an old and beautiful place. The reception was at a restaurant, where we had the courtyard room with retracting skylights. Aleea and her new husband Israel are clearly very in love and very happy to be married. Aleea’s adopted daughter, whom she adopted from the foster system, gave a touching toast to her mother and new father. It was a wonderful wedding. We sat with Keefe and Terry, which I loved, and took silly photos with them in the photo booth. At 10:30 I crashed, however, and we left. Aleea told me she was reading this blog, and so happy I came.

The next day after doing yoga together and then attending the wedding brunch, Alan and I traveled to Santa Monica, where we were staying at the Huntley. We walked the beach and even went on the tourist trap known as the Santa Monica pier. Dinner was at Blue Plate Oysterette, which Alan had never tried. On Monday we spent the day in the office. It was not only productive, but Naomi, one of my former members, who left the firm three years ago, lived in Tanzania during that time and had a baby with her boyfriend there, came to meet with me and have tea. What a treat. Her daughter Felicity, is adorable, covered me in kisses and made me smile. It was so good to catch up with Naomi in person rather than simply by reading and commenting on her Facebook posts. She is back in L.A. for good. I hope she can return to the firm. The people I met at the firm were all also cheering me on in this fight, which always bolsters my spirit. I even received an email from one of the persons I met, telling me to beat this cancer and he knew I would. We also had some serious talks about their practices and the office. I am the commercial litigation practice group leader and was catching up in person with those in the L.A. office who are part of my group. This was much delayed because of the chemo and my diagnosis. I originally planned to visit in June, but cancer intervened.

We then met Sara for dinner (Italian), where I ate too much pasta. The following day was our fun and frolic day. I went to Yoga Works on Montana for Mysore Ashtanga yoga. The room was full, and the two people next to me were doing the entire intermediate series. The teacher remembered me although it had been almost three years since I went there. I went more regularly when Sara lived in L.A. because I visited her fairly regularly. Alan and I then walked a lot, until we all went to Abbot Kinney Street in Venice Beach, where we went into and out of the many stores, had wine and beer before dinner and then had dinner at the hot restaurant there, Gjelina. Leave it to Sara to know about it and to make the reservations. L.A. is suffering from a serious drought but for us, the sunshine, the temperatures in the 70’s, walking the beach, were all a nice break and a return to summer for a short time. While traffic is a nightmare, the ocean and the mountains are beautiful. This break seemed to extend my week off chemo and while I did not know if I would make it to California, I am glad I rebounded enough to do so. Taking these breaks and enjoying the time, are all part of living fully while I fight this disease. Next trip is to South Beach in November.

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