…welcome to the hotel California…

President Bush is in the neighborhood. When I drove out for a hike with John this morning, we noticed all the cops closing in around the area. Cops standing beside their patrol cars. Cops on motorcycles. We also spotted a couple of guys with that secret service look — tall, well built, suits, standing around and staring impassively. They were, among other places, blocking off the sidestreet that leads to the (surprisingly modest) Reagan home.

Gorgeous weather for a hike — LA winter at its finest: cold and crisp and clear, bright skies, snowcapped mountains in the distance. Reminds me of autumn in my Canadian hometown, that kind of breeze with the underside chill promising winter — except here, that chilly undertone is winter. John and I followed our usual trail through the woods off Mulholland, dipping down through a pretty residential area, then climbing the hillside again with the San Fernando Valley dropping off to one side. LA has these pockets of absolutely heart-smashing beauty. It’s one of the reasons why I reached a point where I would actually choose living in Los Angeles over living in New York, when for so long life in New York* was my ultimate dream. Someone once told me: “Nobody wants to move to LA, but after five years of living here, nobody wants to leave. Everybody wants to move to New York, but after five years of living there, everybody wants to leave.” Which is as unfair as any sweeping generalization ever made, of course, but the truth of the matter — at least so far as I can tell, judging from my own experience and others’ — is that in order to love Los Angeles, or even to understand it, you kind of need to live here.

Later, in the kitchen with the kids, I listened to the housekeeper and the nanny taking turns on the telephone trying to guide the handyman through the maze of streets to our house when those streets have been, it appears, effectively blocked off for Bush and his posse. One hour later and the handyman still hasn’t appeared; either he gave up or possibly even got turned away (“Did you get stopped on the way back?” someone asked me. No, but it was early yet). “I hope I can get home,” grumbled the nanny, whose shift is nearly over. “Stupid President.”

*I’m still absolutely crazy about New York. The most amazing place to visit.

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