A few times a week I cross the tracks into a gorgeous multi-million dollar neighborhood called Cheviot Hills. Leaving my apartment, I walk north under a freeway overpass, up a hill and into a small piece of paradise. Lush with trees, flower gardens, green lawns and peaceful fountains, it provides instant refreshment. It is always quiet and the birds are delightfully louder here; I am usually one of the few people walking around. Occasionally I see children playing on a front lawn or smell BBQ coming from a backyard but usually I feel like I have it all to myself. Just me and the birds. The houses are beautiful and I never get tired of looking at them as I walk. They vary in style; there are white American Colonial homes with stately columns and bright red doors. There are large, brown and white Tudor homes with tiny stained glass windows in odd places. There are bright-colored Spanish homes with tiled roofs and playful steps to each door. There are clean modern homes with large windows and ambiguous sculptures. There are English cottage homes surrounded by wild and magical gardens. Simply, this neighborhood is a feast for the eyes.
Aside from the lovely homes, the part of the walk that I look forward to most is the view of the cityscape rising above the trees at the gulf course which sits at the heart of this neighborhood. Like the part of a song that gets you every time, this is always the moment I savor. There is something particularly moving about seeing the buildings of Century City rise above the forest of trees at the Rancho Park golf course. It’s as though the city has found itself lost in time at the center of an ancient forest. The juxtaposition of the natural and modern worlds create a particular magic for me. These views are especially divine in the late afternoon. The pink and golden light of a Los Angeles sunset creates a soothing balm over a city that is otherwise anything but. I’m convinced that if not for the afternoon glow that overtakes the city each day, many of us would not still be here. It’s like a siren sweetly singing, whispering promises in your ear. Promises of possibility, fortune and fame. No matter how tough your day was, this pink golden light has a way of washing it all away and restoring hope. It’s either helping you or swindling you; it’s hard to tell.
Regardless, I am grateful for the proximity to such a lovely neighborhood. If a spell has been cast, it has lifted me for a moment beyond my worries and concerns and opened a window of new thoughts and inspiration. As I head back down the hill, under the freeway overpass and back into the urban sprawl below, in some small way, I am made new.