Road Foodie

Some people drive simply to arrive.

The Women

Posted By on February 10, 2009

Food makes Jill feel good.

Food makes Jill feel good.

2. 5.09; On the Road: Santa Monica to Scottsdale
I am driving again. These are baby steps, but the fact is that I’m moving slowly and inexorably in an easterly direction. This year’s winter plan has been adjusted exponentially downward due to various issues, number one through ten being lack of wherewithal. The idea that C could commute to and from his weekly class at The New School, as he did–to physical and financial detriment–last year, is consigned to the dustbin of wish-we-coulda. So, for the first time, we’ve decided to explore the viability of two months apart. Two Tuesdays ago, he got onto an airplane and went back to ice-world. I stayed.
Miss Coqui right before all the babies.

Miss Coqui right before all the babies.

Driving past the garden spots of Covina and Ontario, I engage in my customary look-back at the winter’s memorable California moments (which are rather fewer than in past years, due to the truncated time; I’m tired now for the simple reason that I tried to cram three months of fun into two weeks).
San Luis Obispo embodies everything I dream of when it comes to precious coastal California, and cousin Robert’s hospitality went beyond any possible paradigm of generosity. But it was in the imperfect basin of L.A. that I was swept into the welcoming, understanding arms of the girl-women I miss so deeply all throughout the rest of the year.
There is Andrea, a sweet and natural Austrian beauty who enriches the lives of others every day with her flower deliveries to Le Toute Monde of Malibu. The local mixture of glittery celebrity and gritty re-hab are constants of her successful business and she approaches each one with equal cheer. Then there’s Jill: a chef in every synapse of her slim, blonde, surfer-
Andrea: Pretty outside, pretty inside.

Andrea: Pretty outside, pretty inside.

girl self—she knows no other grail than to cook, and to cook well, for others, whether they’re paying customers, friends, or devastated mourners of an untimely death. Her constant is a belief that good food will solve pretty much any ill. Or go the distance.
Holly is a woman whose career—as an influential casting director—was lucrative but, literally, making her sick. It took huge guts to quit the “easy” money and start doing what she’d always dreamed of: coaching actors for auditions (who could possibly know better what those people “in the room” want to see?). Her health improved immediately (she’s also mom of a son who has suddenly become a genius in that way that makes you doubt the value of a twenty-year-old college education).
Mama Coqui is a red-headed firebrand who is suddenly and incongruously the strong anchor of a family of four-under-four. Once the toast of Venice Beach’s painfully trendy Abbot Kinney Blvd, she’s now making toast for four hungry mouths while master-minding a multi-media break-out for herself and her husband, impresario and chef to the embattled but erstwhile Governator.
Here, Ronda and I break our cleansing fast together, three days early. Shhhh.

Here, Ronda and I break our cleansing fast together, three days early. Shhhh.

Ronda is my oft-mentioned “longest” friend; we met at cooking school in London in the way-back, and although our lives have taken very different directions (she’s a devoted mom, I’m an ambitious professional) our friendship has endured far longer than any of the seven marriages we can count between us (all since we first met!). Her many, always supremely comfortable homes have often offered me peaceful refuge; the current one contains more fluffy dog beds than any location that is not a pet store, (all in shades of white or pink). Watching her girls flourish and grow makes me laugh and cry—often simultaneously—and casts the passage of time in a perspective that child-free women sometimes lack.
I missed seeing the lovely Mathilde---movie-star-dog trainer---on this trip!

I missed seeing the lovely Mathilde---move-star-dog trainer---on this trip!

On my final night in Los Angeles, Darla cooks me a delicious dinner. (Just the two of us—a pajamas-at-seven kinda night.) People don’t cook for me very often (occupational hazard), so when someone does, I get choked up out of all proportion. Years ago, when I arrived from Spain tear-streaked and desolate after ten years in Europe and the failure of my first marriage, Darla helped me forge a new style and confidence. Then, we had a disagreement that lasted almost five years. Having her self-deprecating humor and quirky, sexy style back in my life makes it whole.
I’m headed for Scottsdale as I engage in these babe-centric reflections. Bless her heart, my high-school room-mate Mary (aka Zak) has offered her pretty, serene, and comfortable vacation pad for my interim week between L.A. and the Marfa Month. Zak (Mary) and I cut our teeth on the concept of adulthood back in the
Stella is my littlest woman friend.

Stella is my littlest woman friend.

red-rock canyons of Sedona when I was 16 and she was 18;her three boys are all grown up now. But if I suspected that any of my friends’ kids ever got up to the kinda stuff we did, then, I’d have to effect an intervention.

The women here—and of course in New York, and London—have become my chosen family. I truly believe that the sisterhood of women can make any grief or trouble bearable, can turn adversity into opportunity, can turn a tear-stained face upward, toward the sun. Without them, I’d never have made it this far.

(I’m not standing on a corner in Winslow, but I am in Arizona, and I’ve got seven women on my mind. I love when that kinda shit happens.)

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