Many years ago, I was briefly a hostess at the Hotel Bel Air. I was 18, and had sent my parents into a tizzy by announcing that no, I would not be attending Harvard in the fall, but would rather be moving to Los Angeles with my boyfriend Rob to be an actress. They loved this idea, as I’m sure you can imagine. (Above, that’s me with dyed-brown hair on the set of the Worst Movie Ever – Hefner: Unauthorized – which I shot during that first summer in Los Angeles.)
As you may have guessed, I wised up around August, turned down a couple of roles I’d been offered, and did indeed show up at college registration a few weeks later.
But back to June: we flew out west, rented a car that had a tendency to siphon up plastic bags into the A/C, and set up shop in a Murphy bed-equipped, fully-furnished studio apartment down on Olympic. To pay our rent I decided to get a job hostessing, and the first place that hired me was the Hotel Bel Air. I wore a shin-length navy-blue blazer-dress (as pretty as it sounds) and didn’t do a ton besides pretend to be a grown-up to guests and giggle with my friend Candace about how much we hated our boss, the restaurant’s manager (he had a lovely habit of poking us – hard – in the back if he felt that we were spending too much time chatting with a customer, as well as a rule that we were to leave all the tips that supplemented our $10/hour pay in the drawer by the check-in desk…from which they promptly disappeared).
So I didn’t like working there, but I loved being there. I loved the way it smelled – like gardenia and jasmine – and loved the swans that wandered around the gardens. And once a man came over to me and asked me for directions to a romantic place where he could propose to his girlfriend, and then I watched her say yes in a white gazebo covered with ivy and roses. And another time I waited on Oprah, which was cool.
This porch shot, which I found on Tumblr a few days ago (via A Cottage In The Woods) reminds me very much of the Hotel Bel Air. I would like to have a porch that looks like this one day. I think I would like it to be in Northern California and maybe involve tea sandwiches, paperback novels, and a gilt cage with two blue budgies inside. And when I serve my very own guests big, frosty glasses of lemonade, no one is allowed to poke me in the back.