for d

he came to the shores of a different los angeles and rented a house on the edge of a main street beach slum  near the burned-out skeleton of pacific ocean park.  it was a place to rest after travel and after his actor’s dream lay left behind and rotting in the streets–part of a life he had once  experienced  in the big apple.  As soon as he arrived, he knew it was home; a true and certain solace crept into his being from the nearness of that early-day pacific….

it was simply  a quiet old beach town then where a  clean, clear ocean lapped onto miles and miles of white sands canopied by bright blue skies.  here was the beach he could still take his walks on–in the days before his knees blew out– complete with the draw of a counter-culture that fed his artist’s soul and an affordable, comfortable sense, it felt like this was the town he could  do his art in…and call home.

the beach scene was filled with crazy poets, surfer boys and the boho life of artists and writers creating everywhere.   these were the early days long before high rises and high rents,  high greed and high expectations marked the impending turning point,  and long before his beloved new neighborhood metamorphed into the disney-ish high-fashion  fantasyland it sadly is today…

a couple of mis-steps, a wrong marriage and a few other untimely forks in his road  took him a little further down into venice and a few other low-rent shacks… but he always managed to find his shelter in the shadow of the sea.  one room, two room walk-ups would do and never really mattered in the early day, as long as he had a roof and could paint and draw, read and keep his head on straight.  there were jumbled parts and broken pieces of him and his life that he had left in nyc and had painstakingly rebuilt and repaired and chapters he was eager not to repeat…this sounds of the sea assured a constant and neccesary healing…

then love came again, shaking  him to his core this time… and ‘nesting-in’ perfection brought him to yet another living arrangement, a glorious space  to share with his newly wedded, and this time,  he really found home, in a recently remodeled, two bedroom duplex six blocks up the hill from his first hollister ave home…

so there they settled in for twenty-odd years, anchored sweetly into the comfort of domesticity and bliss. This was where he eased his roots deep into his surroundings; this was where he planned to stay and eventually die, a mere  six blocks from the scent and comfort of his sea. The foghorns could still be heard at the top of the Ocean Park hill, and this quiet space, filled with such a new love completed him. With its separate space to do art and blast public radio, it was his perfect sanctuary, a miracle and a godsend for any humble renter…

Twenty years is a long time to sustain both love and rented shelter and he managed to do both.   Faithfully, he scrubbed the windows to let the different seasons of light in that brought  such comfort into his world.  There was a feeling, he remarked, in watching it play off his stark, clean, barren walls and shiny wooden floors, dappling shadows from the leaves of his favorite tree off the wall in the later afternoon.  He perfected a work space to create his art and even tended to the care and annual trimming of the leggy honey locust tree that added to this illusion of perfection and calm.    The rent was paid on time and eventually, it troubled him when he found that he wasted too much time trying to appease an unhappy land-baroness who lived up front on the other side of their shared duplex wall.  Still, they made it work for their paradise, for the honor of walking those six blocks to the ocean’s front, to town and shopping and for the honor of living in the safe arms of an ever- changing neighborhood…

but up front, the darkness grew and festered, and out of the bottomless pit of both a real and ‘dry’ jamieson’s bottle,  the landbaroness grew her poison.  Early on, she had outlawed his piano and flute playing, demanded an unreasonable silence and reduced conversation to time-sensitive whispers, even as her hounds’ insistent yapping constantly disturbed a neighborhood’s peace on a daily basis…

its ok, he said.   its a small price to pay for my paradise–a small, small sacrifice.  And over the years, he and his beloved conceeded quietly to each and every one of her demands just to keep the peace.   but soon, the landlady’s  bottle was traded for the forgiveness and sham of those who fake recovery.  and, while her addiction demon remained,  her rage devoured her life,  whole.  Over the years, her anger fragmented  into nasty compartments,  leaving her reaching for the blazing irrationale  and anger of her irish ancestors at every turn.  And what better fodder to aim it at than the overly-senstive, quiet couple sharing a common wall of this, HER  land,    HER prop-er-ty….

at august’s end , the honey locust still stood in all of its weedy glory awaiting its annual trim.  the artist had called the tree doctors  then mistakenly mentioned their impending arrival  to the land non-lady, who for the first time in twenty years, leapt at this opportunity for more control and say so–just in case these tenants had forgotten who really was boss around here!cut it down, she proclaimed, while the artist stood, shocked and helpless,  begging and pleading for its life.  And when his tears finally flowed, she shamed and embarrassed him, telling him that should get some help for his over-sensitivity over  a damn tree.  The artist was unhinged for a week after the butchering, unable to eat or sleep over such a senseless slaughtering and over her cruelty and dismissal of his caregiving of this honey locust over the years.

soon after, as indian summer cozied up to august’s endings, and a mere week past  the tree debacle,  the registered letter arrived from the miffed landlady, evicting the gentle artist and his beloved  from their home.  The letter forbade any face to face contact, and banished all attempts for reconcilliation or discussion of the matter.  The owner, amid her flurry of ‘stand-ups’ for others at AA meetings, allegedly ‘working the steps’ in her own life in order to do the right thing, had sealed her righteousness with an eviction and a lease-breaking move-out date… in a registered letter.

away from the beachhe and his beloved moved…into a funhouse rental,  in need of repair at every turn; the neighborhood, unrecognizable and unfamiliar…no studio to create in and disappear to….no sounds of distant foghorns or the ease of a short walk to examine a brilliant sunset…the only saving grace of this new abode was the well tended, overgrown garden, with birdsong and beauty for a man who’d seen his eighty years race by.  this is what is left, i thought.  look at what was taken from him at a time that should have been filled with peace, calm.  this ordeal has changed things for him, moved the endgame a little closer.

we humans can be cruel and selfish…and in the blink of an unforgiving eye, we can take away a life, a good, solid productive life, with our madness and our need for control….hang in, dear friend, stay strong with your love and remember to take very good care…

About lindalou5150

as exercise or exorcism, i write...for the eyes of others, for my eyes and heart only, for the love and the rage, i release the gamut of tell the truth and say what's often thought but not written...
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