When I first moved to L.A. I did not want to live in Palms. Aside from its central location and proximity to the 10 and 405 freeways, it presents nothing extraordinary. It’s a small neighborhood East of Santa Monica and West of Beverly Hills. It sits on the outskirts of many desirable neighborhoods but fails to be one itself. Unless you live here, there really is no reason to come to Palms. When I moved to L.A. I wanted to live East. I wanted to live near the hipsters and the Bohemians and the artists. I wanted to live in an up-and-coming neighborhood where things were happening. That didn’t happen though. I ended up West and I ended up in Palms, a neighborhood that I deemed very un-romantic, and as far as I could tell was not up-and-coming.
I am not going to tell you how over the last three years I’ve discovered how romantic Palms is, or how it has surprisingly stolen my heart. Palms is still what it is, and that’s OK. I do enjoy many things about this neighborhood though and because of the time I’ve spent here it will go down as a very important place in my life. Like anything that you spend time with, and that is good to you, affection grows.
The first few weeks here in Palms I set out on my walks to explore the neighborhood. I took in the sights and sounds: Apartment buildings and more apartment buildings, trees, kids playing basketball in the park, people walking their dogs, restaurants, a laundry mat, shops and convenient stores. A very typical neighborhood. A few things though that are not so typical are the French high school across the street and the Muslim cultural center directly behind my apartment. I like to think these two things give my neighborhood an “international” feel. I know, it’s starting to sound romantic. I can’t help it – that’s what I do. To take it down a notch I will mention the huge storage facility across the street next to the school. This is actually very comforting to me. It’s nice knowing that if I have to store my belongings in an emergency it will be easy to get my stuff over there.
For me, one of the best things about Palms is the block of shops and restaurants near the intersection of National Blvd. and Motor Ave. I like to think of this as our village square. There is an Asian import market which doubles as a cafe where they’ve recently installed a big screen TV and free wireless. I spend many hot summer afternoons there, drinking mango smoothies to escape my stuffy apartment. There is also a delicious Indonesian restaurant that serves a dish called Nasi Bunkus that I am completely addicted to. When I think about moving my first thought is always, “oh no, what about Nasi Bunkus?” In this plaza there is also National Nails where I get my nails done, a dry cleaners where I get my cleaning done and a bar called Boardwalk 11 that is known for its karaoke night. Across from this plaza is a vegan restaurant, a Mexican restaurant and a great pizza place called Mamma’s. I would also regret not mentioning Palms Market down the street that serves perfect homemade guacamole, refried beans, and pico de gallo in their deli. Aside from the many food options there is also an antique store, a painting studio, a computer repair shop, a car repair/ body shop and a strange looking spa boasting something called the “Elizabeth Taylor Aquatic Center.” I am directly around the corner from all of this and as such the little square has become very dear to me. If for some reason the rest of L.A. disappeared or became unavailable, I would have everything I need right here.
Compared to other neighborhoods in L.A. Palms may be unexceptional but the longer I stay the more good continues to find it’s way here. We recently welcomed a gastro pub and a farmers market. I know, it sounds hip, but somehow it’s not and I actually kind of like that. The weekends are very quiet here as there are not a lot of reasons to come to Palms. I suppose if anything makes it extraordinary, it is this: it quietly remains itself amidst a city where so many people and places are trying to “be something.” It’s humble in its offerings and it seems comfortable with who it is. I’ve always dreamed of living in a small country village were life is quiet, convenient and charmingly simple. Strange that I would find myself in one of the only neighborhoods in L.A. that I can say that about. As much as I wanted to be in an area where things were supposedly “happening” I’m glad I ended up here. I know I said I wouldn’t get romantic but I guess I did. Palms, for everything that it is and everything that it isn’t, is home.