I mentioned earlier that I’ve been eating out a lot recently. I made another trip out to LA this week, this time to go to a launch event for FAWN online network. Elizabeth volunteered to go as my plus one, so we decided to make an evening of it. She suggested Beer Belly, which both of us have been wanting to try. So to Koreatown we drove.
Beer Belly is a no-nonsense gastropub, with a helpful chalkboard sign instructing you to 1) order at the bar, 2) find your seat, and 3) enjoy the music (I think there was one more, but I can’t remember what it was). The space was much smaller than we expected, but it turned out to have the cozy, laid back atmosphere that you’d expect from a stylish, minimalist LA pub.
We were pretty full after dinner, but managed to drag ourselves out of Beer Belly (appropriate, no?) and make our way over to Sadie in Hollywood, bypassing the red carpet, checking in on the guest list, and getting ID’d by the doormen — all strange activities I don’t think I’ll ever get used to because I don’t go out much. I know there are clubs and lounges all over the world that require one to go through this ritual, but it’s something I associate closely with Los Angeles. It’s part cliche, part (sur)real life.
Sadie was packed with what I call “pretty LA people,” the type who know how to look effortlessly fashionable and casually chic. The see and be seen folks who manage to seem like they don’t care what anyone thinks about them. I’m not saying that any of these people are fake or disingenuous; quite the opposite, in fact.
I find LA people fascinating; for the most part, they genuinely care about things like art, the environment, politics, music, entrepreneurship, social justice — the whole gamut. Maybe LA attracts a certain type of person, the kind whose imagination and reality bleed inseparably into one another. That, I think, is how they survive and sometimes — often even — flourish.
I feel I don’t fit in with this set because my stark reality is completely and utterly (for now) distinct from my imagination, which I must admit, is quite rampant and unruly. And I don’t have the wherewithal to live my day to day life according to my ideals; I just want to do what I have to do.
I suppose if we were to follow an LA person around, their daily life might be filled with as many mundane activities as mine, but I suspect that they work much harder at scheduling in a fair amount of glitz, glamour and drama. That’s what it is, maybe: my life has little to no drama. At least the kind of drama I associate with pretty LA people.
But back to Sadie, where we were celebrating the launch of FAWN (For All Women Network) as well as our friend Michelle’s birthday. Elizabeth and I arrived fashionably late, wandering past the dim-lit booths and the pretty LA people mingling around the bar to the outdoor patio area.
I overheard one woman describe it as “every woman’s paradise.” I think it was more like every woman’s Disneyland, with women waiting in long lines to get their nails painted, have their makeup done by Lancome experts, get their hair braided, and take photo booth pictures — the full princess treatment.
We decided to enjoy ourselves, both of us getting our hair braided and Elizabeth getting her nails painted a bright pastel pink while the DJ spun a chilled pop mix. There were live music performances too; the crowd buzzed with excitement when Macy Gray went up to sing.
I have to say, I was thankful to have things to do — and brilliant company (thanks Liz!) –because the last few events I attended, I spent a lot of time standing by myself in a lonely corner, an outsider in a sea of cliques. I’m not generally a shy person, but one of the downsides to not being an LA person is that you don’t know other LA people, and they all seem to know each other. Strangers are hard to approach without feeling a little bit creepy.
It reminds me of my first few weeks of college. For some reason, it seemed like everyone had already found their groups — the people they were going to stay best friends with for life. I too had high hopes that I would find my own set of life-long friends, but I didn’t think it was possible to meet them within the first three weeks of school.
Turns out, after the dust had settled, I discovered that people began to re-arrange themselves into more comfortable, natural groups of friends (usually not their BBF’s from the first few weeks). And it became apparent that relationships — genuine ones, anyways — were going to take time. I didn’t meet my close knit circle of friends until mid-way through my second year of college, and I’m thankful I was patient enough to wait for them. I don’t think I would be the person I am without them.
But I regress again. I wouldn’t have been alone at Sadie, I realized, because nearly the entire group of colleagues from my last job were also in attendance, looking stunning as always (something that made me feel a bit self-conscious when I first started working there). It was lovely to see everyone, to catch up and take photos together.
I definitely miss the camaraderie we used to have, plotting mischief in the office and going out to eat together afterwards. But it’s also exciting to see the various paths each of us has taken, and to see that we’re all moving forward, full speed ahead. They remind me that there are wonderful memories to cherish and new blessings for each season. And if nothing else, it’s fun to pretend to be pretty in LA.