Driving down Ventura Boulevard in Ethan’s 1973 International Scout, I looked in the rear view mirror and smiled at Griffin sucking his thumb in the back seat. The convertible turquoise blue truck has been pressed into service since we have only one car and somehow, cruising the old Scout made me feel young. Or maybe it was my long dirty blond hair, streaked with its first few strands of grey, flying around in the wind like some 70s surfer girl. When a guy passed in a Porsche, he nodded in admiration—for the car or for me, it didn’t matter. In the brilliance of a sunny Southern California day, the realization that everything old can be new again struck with a burst of energy.
Coming back in Los Angeles after nearly eighteen months of traveling at our own pace is like being caught in a really powerful vortex. Whirling around in this energy force, it is easy to lose direction, not to mention the constant struggle to stay balanced. The honking horns, the sense of urgency as people try to keep pace with too-fast lives, and the sometimes-angry energy press my internal accelerator to the floor. Waiting to cross busy Santa Monica Boulevard on foot, holding tightly to my children’s hands, a man on a bike rolled onto the sidewalk shouting, “Move it, BITCH!” in my face. I jumped back as if I’d been slapped.
“Why was he so mad, Mom?” Griffin asked, but I had no answer. Maybe he was crazy. Maybe he’d lost his job. Maybe his internal accelerator was revving too high.
“What’s a bitch?” Ado wanted to know.
“It’s a witch, but with a ‘b’,” I said, distracting him with phonics as we scurried across the busy intersection. I’d visited twenty-two countries in eighteen months and no one had called me names–not once.
That night, as if wanting to apologize, Los Angeles showed her softer side. At the Ford Amphitheatre, an open-air venue tucked in the Hollywood Hills, I sat between Daisy and Diana, two women I’ve mentored for almost a decade. They are beautiful and young, just starting to climb the rocky mountain of adulthood, and the colored stage lights illuminating rock walls and juniper trees created an aura of insulation from the insults life can bring.
Under a handful of blurred stars poking through the smoggy sky, a Korean woman in a blue gown played a haegum on stage. The centuries old violin-like instrument traditionally sounds scratchy and rough, but the music created by her bow stroking across strings was clear and lovely enough to make one weep. On her haegum, she transformed George Gershwin’s Summertime and Amazing Grace into songs I barely recognized. Old and new, traditional and original, the best of then and the best of now flowed across the spellbound audience, and tears rolled down Daisy’s face. I took her hand and squeezed. Everything old can be new again, I thought. And the reinvention this brings can have the most incredible results.