I’ve been in Los Angeles For the past few days, visiting the paternal half of my family. Because I live in Canada, I get my family time in sips and gulps. It’s wonderful to spend time with the people I love, talking over eggs, assessing new haircuts, giving and receiving bear hugs, laughing.
As we cruise around town, grabbing pastries and buying old vinyl, it strikes me that when we go “home,” we are visiting a place as much as we are the people.
And L.A. Is a place I’ve been visiting my entire life. Some things change—new stores dot Melrose, my brother just started his second year of University—but other things, comfortingly, remain the same.

Here are a few of the things that greet me every time I touch down in the City of Angels:

*The unseasonable heat. It’s October but you wouldn’t know it in Los Angeles. It was 109 degrees in the valley yesterday. We’ve been hiding out in the shade, swimming in the pool and eating frozen yogurt to stave off the unflagging heat.
*My dad’s uncanny ability to spot celebrities, both new and old, as they flash by on the street or have coffee with a friend. I turn my head and squint to make out the resemblance. Before I can piece it together, they are usually gone, swallowed by a sea of casually dressed people.
*The traffic, so much traffic. This weekend was Carmageddon II. They completely shut down ten miles of the 405 to add yet another lane for more….traffic. As my dad aptly noted, it will soon be swallowed by the void, cars overrunning and consuming that precious space.
*The short stature of the city. Houses and buildings are low, usually one story, built to sprawl out onto the surrounding land, once so plentiful, now tightly packed with people, cars and real estate.
*The pretty palm trees. They’re everywhere, craning their tall necks toward the sun.
*A diner on every corner, a used clothing store on every corner, one more of everything on every corner. It’s remarkable that there are so many versions of everything here. But natives know which of the 1,200 bagel shops does it just right and which cup of coffee is the best.
*The juxtaposition of lush green trees and dry brown hills, a reminder that we are in a desert, living off of borrowed water.
*“The Biz”—everywhere you go, you overhear someone talking about a TV show they write for or a movie their friend is in. Hollywood really is omnipresent here.
*The feeling that everything has slowed down by ten beats. The sun hits my face, my breathing slows, I’m definitely on that oft touted “west coast time.”
Is there a place you return to frequently? Somewhere you’ve watched change and yet, in many ways, remains just the same?