The West Coast

After a hot summer spent on Wolfpit Road in Bethel, Connecticut, seeing all my high school friends, I left for California in early September. I’d written a college friend who lived in Berkeley, asking if I could see her, or visit her. She responded that she was leaving Berkeley for New York City and since her flight left for New York after mine came in, she’d be able to say hello and goodbye to me.

And so she did. Her sister kindly drove me to a hotel in San Francisco and dropped me off there.

That left me to rapidly make some plans. I took a tour of San Francisco the next day and the day after I was on a bus to Los Angeles. Sylvia, my Baltimore roommate, wanted me to come down and stay with her in her aunt’s and uncle’s apartment in Hollywood.

While Sylvia and her family worked six days a week and sat around the pool on Sunday, I spent time every day by the pool, practicing my diving. There was a young woman of 20 or so who was newly married. Her husband was a lawyer for a film company and met her at her home, while seeing her father on business. Somehow this young woman talked him into marrying her. He seemed stunned by his good luck. (He’d been raised in an orphanage.) She was very happy and, I suspected, pleased to be out of her father’s house.

One day she took her husband’s convertible and we drove through the smog of central Los Angeles to go to Disneyland. My eyes ran with water in the foul air. I’d heard of the famous LA smog. Being in it was a nasty shock. I can see the two of us now, trying to be cool sophisticated young women, with our eyes running down our faces behind our stylish sunglasses.

But I spent only a week with them all. Soon I was back on a bus to San Francisco to call old friends of my parents from Rochester, New York who now lived in Walnut Creek. I was going to ask them if I could come and visit.

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