Movin’ on … Lateral

Time flies when you’re living in sin!

It was just this past month that my boyfriend and I celebrated(?) the 1-year anniversary of my moving in with him, premaritally, due to various exigencies. Chief among these was that my dear former roommate of 5 years — a Craigslist random in the nicest way and avid Liza Minelli impersonator — decamped for Sherman Oaks with her boyfriend, a suavely accented French Canadian. Let’s call him Marcel. About 18 months ago, Marcel seemed to appear out of nowhere, a night in shining golf-cart (she is a professional studio backlot tour guide). Before I knew it he was appearing at midnight at our shared doorstep, battling back the scrum of Hollywood home-liberated. (They, like vampires, kinkajous and TMZ employees, are fully nocturnal.) While we still lived together in the Orange Drive apartment that gives this blog its name, he would often pop by just to bring her little love notes, flowers, or La Maison du Chocolat. These girly gewgaws (which I’m totally jealous of, let’s be clear) created quite the cognitive dissonance, as Liza-lite sported a punky-goth style and had our apartment all done up to celebrate the truly macabre. You know, Bates Motel-themed bathroom (complete with faux blood-splattered hand towels), eerily lifelike rubber rats that went up every Halloween and never came down, Jack-o-Lantern tupperware, etc. It really put you in a mortal mood, much like that Hans Holbein the Younger painting with a random skull on the floor. Perhaps you saw our spread in Better Homes & Gardens.

Justine's decor


That was July 2012. A year later, in Sherman Oaks, Liza and Marcel are happily engaged, planning a Halloween wedding. He didn’t go to Jared, but to a funeral home gift shop, where he picked up a bewinged skull engagement ring. At first I thought it unusual—though touchingly, in accord with Liza’s personal style. And I guess if the original point of engagement rings is to be a “Noli me tangere” tag, what more literal interpretation could there be than a finger Jolly Roger? “It looks like a claddagh,” my ER doc sister pointed out logically, “except instead of a heart it’s a cranium.” Skull is the thing with feathers.

On my front, July 2013 marked the first anniversary of living successfully with my boyfriend, in his 2-bedroom 10 miles west of Hollywood. By “living successfully,” I mean we stayed together, we didn’t kill each other, and most impressive of all, neither my Deep South mother nor grandmother killed us, either. The latter threat—grandaughter-icide—is surely a more real one, but I’ve carefully elided updates and details on the current situation, so I hope she accepts this measure of respect, ultimately worthless though it may be, and holds off for a few. For me, the new digs were an objective upgrade, for sure: I have nary a new home-liberated encounter to report in 12 months of street parking! But my boyfriend had been in the place for 5 years, and had various complaints ranging from general dissatisfaction with renting to vague complaints about the transparency of the valances. I’m too close to the memory of a cost-cutting winter at Orange Drive in which we were limited to showers hovering at the temp suitable for shipping perishable foods cross-country, so I can’t sympathize with these quibbles.

It was with mixed emotions that we received a 30-day notice to vacate in late June. Evidently the owner of our condo — who lives across the country — received an offer on the unlisted unit, and the place went into escrow within hours. The economics of it were a bit puzzling, but perhaps the owner finally had enough of diaphanous window drapery.

So box procuring, random crap donation and all the other fun tasks of relocating had to be compressed into a stressfully brief amount of time. There was also the matter of finding a new place to live. In a truly unexpected bout of open-mindedness, my boyfriend suggested we consider a few neighborhoods even further east of my old stomping grounds in Hollywood. As a general rule, home-liberated density increases proportionally as you move east in L.A. Thankfully, after a particularly fly-swarmed bowl of cha ca thang long that seemed to be a metaphor for the grit (and authenticity) of its surrounding neighborhood — Silverlake — we gave the reverse Manifest Desinty eastward move a formal pass.

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