It was a hump day. I dropped my son off at school in Downtown L.A. and was just about to pull my car onto the humdrum of concrete that is the 110 South when, impulsively, I stopped in front of Crepes de Paris on Figueroa Street. Instead of rushing back into traffic, why not knock out a bit of work over a cappuccino?
I checked my appearance. Shabby, but better than most school drop-off mornings. I’d pulled on a pair of soft, camel-colored knit pants and a button-up shirt I bought from Target simply because the color conjures up olive orchards in Italy. I’d even popped on gold hoops and slid on Chapstick. I pushed up my sleeves and got out of the car. Shabby, yes, but shabby chic. A kind of relaxed world-traveler look. I stepped inside the little slice of Paris on Figueroa and ordered a cappuccino and spinach crepe.
“For here or to go?” the waitress asked me. I looked around at the charming but empty dining area: an ornate tin ceiling from which slender light fixtures dangled, honeycomb floor tiles, mirrors and sepia photographs encased in antique frames, a vase of tulips placed just so at the front window. Old jazz crackled faintly in the background.
“Here,” I said, brain wheels turning. I had a piece to write. I slipped into a lovely corner and fished a miniature notebook and pen from my purse. I was already writing when the waitress placed my cappuccino on the table. On the cup, in fancy script, these words:
For music – Puccini
For art – Bernini
For espresso – Paquini
A promo, sure, but also a reminder to indulge the senses — at vacation time and even at the beginning of a hump day in your own town. I put my writing tools down for a minute when my crepe, stuffed with fresh spinach, red bell peppers, mushroom, onion and dusted with feta, arrived. The savory goodness brought back memories of my first trip to Paris and of the couple of years I lived just a short walk away from Crepes de Paris. My family and I savored those days of walking everywhere, enjoying nooks and crannies of our city that are easy to miss when driving.
As I ate and sipped slowly, customers on their way to work rushed in to grab takeout orders they’d already called in. Finally, I heard someone say, “We’ll eat here,” and I looked up. It was an older couple. They sat at a table across from me, their shoulders relaxed, their giggles soft. They got up to look closely at some of the photographs on the walls, and we greeted each other. They were visiting from San Diego. Their plan was to tour the museums, have dinner with their daughter and hike Griffith Park for the first time.
I smiled at their giddiness as I turned back to this month’s issue, which is all about travel. Whether you and your family are getting out of town this summer or staying close, travel well, safely and with the flair of an artist.