Recently I've been playing tour guide in my own town. The first guests in my home were my parents. They rarely come out to visit anymore as my father is elderly and can't deal with the long trip from small town east coast to west coast. There's always at least one plane change involved and that just adds to the brutal hours and cramped plane time. My mother, however, is still a firecracker but the trip is just tiring, even for me.
Since money is tight (and let's face it, sleepovers are more fun) they stayed with me. I gave up my luxurious bed that I have perfected the art of and gave it to them. I took the bed in the spare room which is still nice, but not my memory foam, goose down duvet dream bed. Not that I'm bitter about giving it up, I'm just telling you I did. Selflessly. Can I tell you how freaking weird it is to sleep in another part of your home that you have never slept in before?!?
And thus began my few weeks of being a tour guide. It's nice to see your city how a true tourist sees it. Most tourists who come to LA don't go to the Peace Labyrinth or the Arts and Crafts Museum. They don't hit my personal hotspots of Koreatown and Little Ethiopia, they tend to stick to the tried and true sights like tours of the stars homes and Hollywood. I've been to Hollywood gazillions of times but i've never done a proper tour of LA like visitors have. I mentioned doing the Dearly Departed tour (visiting famous death and scandal sites) to my parents as the more palatable tour to me and off we went.
Seeing the city through the eyes of a solo traveler from Turkey (I did the same thing in his home country) and a couple from Scotland that were on the mini bus made me appreciate what I had here. I saw a glimmer of the glamour of old Hollywood and I also didn't realize we had so many grizzly murders here! What a flashy fucked up place I live in! I was enthralled with the places where stars died under sad circumstances (Janice Joplin) and was brought back to nights that I actually witnessed happening (River Phoenix). Each day we did a little something new and I got to know my city better.
And then my friend in Abu Dhabi said she was thinking of coming out to LA last minute and I couldn't have been more excited! We met in a restaurant in Beirut and I saw her a year ago when I went to the UAE. I've loved her since the moment I met her. She has a clear sense of adventure and always wants to try something new and different, to challenge herself. So two days after my parents leave, my friend and her friend fly in to LAX and so it begins again!
We do the usual tourist circuit but we also go up to Santa Barbara and even to my local Sunday farmers market. They are able to get a taste of real local life in LA. That is one of my favorite parts of traveling abroad, seeing what it's like to live there even if only for a few hours. Walking the neighborhood and shopping where the locals do bring a city to life for me and I was happy to share a slice of that with them. We even went to a comedy club, which I haven't done in about 20 years! My friend is an hijabi (meaning she is a muslim who wears the veil) and I will never forget how every time we saw another hijabi she would say, "Hijabis in da hooouse!" That might be my new favorite saying. Now every time I see an hijabi I just want to say that! They might think I'm a bit batshit though. But I never realized how many of them were around! It really opened my eyes to even more diversity in my already diverse city.
Hosting guests is a great way to travel vicariously through someone else. Putting yourself in their shoes and taking them to the cheesiest of sights and just losing yourself in the silliness of it all. Become that tourist that you always mock! Not the one wearing the fanny pack and the denim on denim combo though. That would be going just too far. But maybe just be the one taking selfies in front of the Hollywood sign or the one having a pic snapped with the wax Brad Pitt. You have to be careful, you never know who you might run into!
Oh! and this time I got to keep my bed!