Post Cards from the Edge of Reason

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Okay, better late than never. (Or perhaps you'd prefer never, when you read it!) Almost two months after my trip, here's a bit more of the travelogue. I promise to have the next installment done before we are all dead, but please don't try and speed me up by holding your breath!

Post Card I

We arrived on a night flight.

I looked out the small window, not expecting to see much beyond the dim outline of my reflection in the glass. So the view I was met with made me gasp as much out of surprise as out of the beauty and wonder of it. And wondrous it was!

For on this occasion of our first meeting – or so I fancied - the City of Angels had donned her evening best. Her lights sparkled and twinkled like diamonds that had been sewn onto a ball gown befitting the Oscars. She wore it so beautifully! It hugged her ample curves and sprawling valleys and trailed off into the distance.

Whoever said that big girls can’t dress up?

Post Card II

We waited for our luggage.

The woman who had sat next to us on the plane let her pampered little pooch out of its cage. As soon as the cute pup tasted freedom, it began running around in frantic circles, giving a few excited yelps.

The dog's energy seemed to rub off on all the travel-weary folks nearby. It especially affected two toddlers, who had been cranky from the long journey just moments before. As soon as they caught sight of the dog, they immediately stopped wailing. With tears still dripping down their bulbous cheeks but already long forgotten, they wobbled over on their unsteady little bow legs to investigate this novel little creature.

As curious of them as they were of it, the dog stopped running long enough to allow the chubby toddler hands to pat-pat-pat its coat. This new sensation brought along shrieks of delight and toothless, drooling grins from the toddlers.

Their parents, although grateful for the distraction from the crying, nervously hovered nearby. Not near enough, it seemed. In what I'm sure was merely an experimental gesture, one of the toddlers leaned over and gave the dog's tail a firm yank. The dog growled and snapped at the air around the culprit hand. No damage done, thank goodness. Just a terrible fright all around. As their parents scooped them up, the wailing resumed again with renewed vigour. The pup guiltily slinked back into its cage.

We picked up our suitcases and left.

Post Card III

In the bit of travelling I've done thus far in my life, I've discovered that every place has its own distinct smell. Los Angeles is no exception. As we stepped from the airport building out into the pleasantly cool, clear evening, I inhaled deeply (although I'd deny it should I ever run for office, har har), and the smell was good. SO much better than I could've ever imagined it would be. And imagine it I did. I've always been partial to places with year-round palm trees (might have a little something to do with my aversion to any weather temperature below 65 degrees Fahrenheit), so for that reason, I've always wanted to go to California. After so many years of imagining and dreaming, I couldn't believe that I had finally made it there.

Post Card IV

At the rental car place, I once again waited with our luggage. I insisted on waiting outside, because for the first time since I'd been in the U.S., the weather felt "South African." We hadn't even left the vicinity of LAX yet, and I already wanted to move there!

The wait at the rental car place seemed endless (even though it was already long after midnight, LAX and the car rental office were still remarkably crowded) and quite suddenly I was overcome with the fatigue that takes hold of you when you've had an extended day.

A Latina grandmother who had also been waiting for her daughter and son-in-law to pick up their rental car, started pushing her little granddaughter around in a stroller. I watched them go up and down the sidewalk and every time they passed me, I smiled at them. At one time we tried striking up a conversation about how long it was taking to get a car, but she couldn't speak a lot of English and I can't speak a lot of Spanish (except to say "Pardon me. I don't speak Spanish." And, of course: "Beer, please."), so we continued to just smile at each other instead. Finally her kids came out of the rental office. Luckily the boy wasn't too far behind, because at that point I was about ready to keel over.

He smiled apologetically, but it seemed that the long wait had been worth it.

Because he had pulled up in a zippy little convertible!

Post Card V

On the road from LAX to Pasadena, we had the windows down (the night air was too cool to have the top down). The combination of the invigorating air and the happy, lively Spanish tunes blasting into the car drove away the fatigue and immediately gave us both a renewed energy. I STILL COULDN'T BELIEVE I WAS ACTUALLY IN CALIFORNIA! I leaned out the car window. Tall palm trees stood at attention and lined both sides of the street like a formal welcoming committee. I grinned from ear to ear.

Post Card VI

Woke up in the Hilton in Pasadena to a cloudy day. So much for sunny California! But I wasn't upset at all. I still thought the weather was gorgeous, pleasant and warm with low humidity. And later, when I glanced at the weather reports on CNN and saw the high humidity and warnings of bad air quality on the east coast that I had just left behind the day before, I appreciated the Californian weather so much more, sunny or not.

When I left the hotel at around noon to meet the boy for lunch, I saw something that almost had me weeping with joy: Just down the street from our hotel, there were these familiar trees bursting with lilac blooms. I know that sounds like a rather strong emotional reaction to have to trees, but the thing is, it was the first time since leaving South Africa that I'd seen any Jacaranda trees, and my South African hometown, Pretoria, is known as the "Jacaranda City." In fact, there used to be this superstitious tradition among students in the city to go and sit under the Jacaranda trees while they studied for their final exams. The belief was that if a blossom from the tree fell onto your head, you'd have luck and get a passing grade.

I scooped up a few of the fallen lilac blossoms and crushed the smooth silken blooms between my fingers.

From then on, whenever I left the hotel, I always picked the route that would take me to my beloved Jacaranda trees.


kim said:

red, this is beautiful. makes me not only wanna travel, get on a plane and smell airport-air again but TOTALLY wanna go to los angeles, too. C grew up in long beach so i'd really love to see the area...

TimT said:

Ah, Jacaranda trees... I studied at Sydney University, the oldus campus in Australia. At the centre of the Uni, in between the psychology and philosophy departments and the Main Hall is the Jacaranda tree.

I can't begin to tell you how many afternoons I spent under that tree chatting to other students instead of studying ...

Annika said:

Hooray, travelogue!

martha said:

oh beautiful trees... and a convertible too? NICE!

martha said:

oh beautiful trees... and a convertible too? NICE!

Red Dahling,
You sure have a wonderful way with words.

Cherryflava said:

At Stellenbosch there was a very similar story that involved oak trees.

Apparently you were not a true Matie if you hadn't kissed anybody in 'Die Laan' and an acorn hadn't fallen on your head. There was a third test...but for the life of me I just can't remember what it was.

Nice post....tell us more....

Leave a comment

is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)


  • Cherryflava : At Stellenbosch there was a very similar story that involved oak trees. Apparently you were not a t... [go]
  • bookstorediva : Red Dahling, You sure have a wonderful way with words.... [go]
  • martha : oh beautiful trees... and a convertible too? NICE!... [go]
  • martha : oh beautiful trees... and a convertible too? NICE!... [go]
  • Annika : Hooray, travelogue!... [go]
  • TimT : Ah, Jacaranda trees... I studied at Sydney University, the oldus campus in Australia. At the centre ... [go]
  • kim : red, this is beautiful. makes me not only wanna travel, get on a plane and smell airport-air again b... [go]
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