Yesterday was the anniversary of my arrival in Los Angeles 25 years ago! And on my anniversary, I had the pleasure of meeting Joan, a 91 year old woman who lives in the building next to me. (If you’re on Facebook, you may have already heard the short version of this story, this is the extended version). As I was walking back from Rite Aid where I was questioning how you can spend so much money on so little, I saw Joan, who asked me if I was crossing the street towards Baskin Robins. I said yes and asked her if she needed some help because although she seemed fine, she also looked like she was just struggling a little bit, and the light at that intersection is so short, so I can see where it would be a concern for an older person.
She said yes, followed by “I’m Joan”. I said, “Hi Joan, I’m Celeste”. She said, “Phyllis?”, I said, “Celeste” (slightly louder). She said, “what is it?”, I said, “CELESTE”. She said, “Oh, Celeste, that’s a pretty name”. Keep in mind, this happens on a regular basis with old people and foreigners. My name is way too hard for anyone who might be hard of hearing or from another country. That’s why whenever I order anything where I have to give my name, I just say “Mary”. It saves us all a lot of aggravation.
Joan told me how to put my arm so that she could hold onto it and she put her cane in her other hand. As we waited for the light to change I asked her where she was from and she told me Chicago. I told her I liked Chicago and she asked me where I was from. I told her Philadelphia and she said she had never been to my “fair city”, which I thought was cute. The light changed and we started across the street and we were going so slow that I started getting nervous knowing the light was going to change. These are the moments that make me love and respect old people. If I was getting nervous knowing that I was just helping an old person, but recognizing all the cars on either side of us impatiently waiting to get through the light, imagine being old and doing it by yourself. I think it takes real courage to live life as an old person. Just crossing the street or driving a car, especially in Los Angeles! When I see an old person behind the wheel in this city, I think to myself, “that takes real guts” and then I quickly speed around them :).
By the way, it was rush hour and cars were backed up on both sides and yet, no one honked their horn at Joan and me.
As we continued up the street, Joan told me she lived in the building for 20 years and used to live on Wilshire Boulevard until they sold the building. She went on telling me about the outrageous rent and taxes in this city and how we all need to pay taxes but that it’s just gotten ridiculous! Naturally, I agreed. When we got to her building, she asked if she could switch sides with me so that she could position herself to get up the two steps to the front door, and she had her keys on a little rope around her neck where she fumbled for a minute to find it. I was watching her and picturing myself as an old lady someday fumbling for my keys. This is why we need to treat old people like the gold that they are, because we are all headed there someday and not all of us will make it to be 91. So be nice to old people and help them any chance you get. They deserve it, they are warriors! She asked me if she could give me some “change” for helping her. Isn’t that sweet? I said, “How much you got, Joan?” Just kidding. My dad told me never to take money for doing someone a favor. That was my good deed for the day and I felt really happy helping Joan.
As far as my anniversary in Los Angeles, it has been quite a ride! I have seen and done so many things that I wouldn’t have gotten to see or do if I didn’t live here. I’ve struggled on every human level possible and found out that I am a survivor. I don’t struggle like I used to in any way, but I’m glad I did because it teaches you things. Being broke teaches you humility and compassion. Being rejected and disappointed teaches you strength, and it also teaches you just how bad you want something. Being negative just creates more negativity in your life and being positive creates more positivity in your life. Go figure!
I learned that all people are fucked up on some level, just maybe on a different level, so cut them some slack. I learned that no one really knows what they’re doing (especially people who are making decisions about what movies get made), and I learned that diversity has a very positive and negative side depending on my mood and the noise level :).
I like living in Los Angeles and who knows if I’ll end up like Joan, still living in Hollywood at 91. Okay, I don’t think so. I don’t plan on living until 91 and I definitely don’t want to be in Hollywood when I’m old. I want to be in an expensive assisted living community somewhere near the ocean where I can eat my dinner at 4pm, be drunk by 6pm and passed out by 8pm. Actually, when I’m old, I’ll probably be drunk by noon, nap at 2, start drinking again at 4pm, dinner at 6…..and I’m practicing that now on weekends just to see how it feels. So far, so good!
By the way, it’s about high time that the Supreme Court gave gay people the right to get married. Congrats gay people! Notice the title of my post, it sounds like Joan and I are celebrating our gay anniversary.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!