‘How are you?’
I’ve been in Los Angeles a week now and everyone I encounter is keen to know how I am. I have never been asked about my well being quite so much in such a short space of time. Of course it’s the American way. Part of the service one gets here. Walking into a shop, buying coffee, ordering lunch, wandering around the supermarket, they all ask the same thing. After Hello or Hi, these are the next three words spoken. It took me a couple of days to get use to this, the first few times after the initial hello I was already into my question/order/query. What they refer to here as ‘British politeness’ made me stop and tell the questioner that ‘I was fine thank you’, and ‘how were they’? before I continued.
Now to think this is just a robotic reaction from one human providing a service, to another human taking that service is, I would suggest, wrong. Rather is it part of the process of interaction that occurs here, it’s all about establishing a relationship between human strangers in an extraordinary short space of time and for me it works. When I ordered my coffee this morning I waited for those three words to be spoken so I could reply and then give my order. I quite like being asked by a complete strangers about my well being, I admit I am biased, because I love it here. Welcome to America.
I have been staying in a hotel two minutes walk from Santa Monica beach, I don’t need to tell you how beautiful this is you can see for yourself from these photos.
There is a promenade that runs the whole length of the beach and here, like many other beaches in the world, one sees the daily routine of people who frequent it. There are dog walkers, joggers, skate boarders, cyclists, skaters, and walkers, who at times are so prolific that there are specific crossings for pedestrians not participating in such activities to enable them to get from one side of the beach to the other. There are surfers in the sea, yogis doing their thing on the sand on little blankets, homeless people asleep, sun lovers stretched out roasting their skins, and the odd person shouting that the end of the world is coming soon, to a place near you. Well perhaps they see these notices, dotted along the beach, as more of a prediction than a warning.
Regular readers of this blog will know I am partial to a produce stall, there is a farmers market in Santa Monica on Wednesday, and these were my favourite stalls.
I’ve had awful jetlag, (yes I can hear you sympathising with me as I type!) since I’ve been here. As someone who takes a week to adjust to the clocks moving forward or back an hour in the UK, an eight hour time difference on top of 3 days of poor sleep before I left the UK has meant that I have really struggled with the time difference. So I have been sleeping at odd times in the day and awake at three most mornings, worry not though!, I am coming through it and a couple more days and I will be sorted. During my waking hours I have done lots of walking and exploring the area. I visited the Santa Monica History Museum, it’s quite small, but does give a flavour of the history of the place. I went on the Pier, which tends to dominate the eastern landscape of the beach, has a mini fun fair and whose lights at night, flash like beacons to tempt people to come and ride it, or for me to use as a landmark to work out where I am.
It’s my last day in Santa Monica, this afternoon I am moving inland a bit so the last couple of days have been spent around the beach area. I will only be a short subway ride away, but anticipate that there will be lots of new things to explore so thought I would make the most of it only being a short walk away. This morning the sunrise turned the sky this lovely colour and tempted me out of bed for an early coffee and walk along the beach.
I got to the beach around seven thirty this morning and there was already surfers in the sea, joggers etc. out, making the most of the cooler temperature, this weekend is going to be in the nineties, a mini heatwave according to the weather people.
There is something mesmerising about the sea, it’s very calming watching the water wash up over the sand, birds digging around for their breakfast, while black suited bodies balance on boards. Simple. Sunny. Stunning.