This wonderful old light fixture hangs at the top of my stairs. I can see it through the window when I pull into the driveway after dark. It's a friendly little beacon. It's quirky and dependable -- kind of like the family it welcomes home. I love the rosy glow of that light, especially after a long day.
Like yesterday, for example...
You've heard me say that things are just different in South Pasadena. That it's kinder here. That in the cruel, impersonal jungle of Los Angeles, South Pas is an oasis of cornball, old-school neighborliness that borders on fetishistic. (And we like it that way.) It's not that the rest of LA is mean -- it's just that so much of South Pas is nice. Really nice. It's kind of weird how nice it is here. People smile and hold doors open here. They throw block parties. They bring you homemade marshmallows and fudge during the holidays. Oh, I'm sure there are some rude, angry, self-centered people in South Pas -- I just haven't run across them yet. (No doubt they skip the old-fashioned Fourth of July Parade.)
But, we can't always stay within the borders of our happy, little village. Yesterday, my daughter and I were waiting to pay for a laptop charger at the Best Buy in Hastings Ranch when a tall man in an expensive suit cut in front of us.
"Hey," I said, "The line is back there."
"Whatever," he said, and then ambled over to the check stand to buy his Transformers DVD.
So, the guy was a first-class toad but not worth getting riled up over. I explained to my daughter that sometimes grownups forget their manners. Next, we drove to a fabric store in Alhambra. At this point, my daughter realized that she needed a bathroom.
"Can you tell me where to find the bathroom?" I asked one of the cashiers.
He looked at me, sighed and said, "Um, no. We don't have a bathroom."
"I have to pee!" My daughter started to freak out, "I think it's going to come out NOW!"
"You don't have a bathroom?" I said.
He stared at me. "No."
I blinked. He didn't.
"Can you let me know which store in this shopping center has a bathroom?"
"I'm pretty sure none of them do," he said. Then, like something remembered from a training manual he added, "Sorry."
I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say that I know for a fact he was not sorry.
"Hurry, Mommy!" Now my kid was crying, "HURRY!!!"
"I don't know what to tell you," he said, and then went back to straightening and unstraightening shopping bags, right next to a sign that insisted sewing holiday decorations brought back old fashioned family values.
I'm not sure how we managed it but we got home without soiling clothes or car seat -- no accidents, just a lot of tears and a few broken speed limits. Later, I realized I was out of Tylenol. I drove to the South Pasadena Rite Aid on Fair Oaks.
"I'm just curious," I said to the woman stocking paper towels. "Do you have a bathroom I could use?"
"Oh sure," she said with a glow every bit as warm as my lamp in the window. "Let me get the keys."
It's good to be home.