Different Worlds – Alternating Between Skies that are Sunny and Grey

@ Suzanne Iselt
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It never rains in Southern California”, sings Albert Hammond in his classic. “And the sun always shines in Los Angeles” – some of the generalized clichés we take for granted. Yes, winter is mild in Los Angeles, and therefore I like to visit LA during that season. It gives me a welcome break from ‘real’ winter in Belgium.

So I was happy to take up the invitation by my friends to pet- & housesit in Santa Monica last holiday season. Though my eagerness to enjoy the sun was tempered shortly upon arrival.

We experienced more than a week of rather “fall” weather – unpleasant chilly temperatures and a few rain storms. On top of that I got sick with some cold and fever, I most likely had caught on the long plane trip. Aside from not feeling well, I had to deal with a few little problems in the Airbnb apartments I had to supervise while my friends were away. Heater not working, a fuse that blew, while it was one the coldest weeks in SoCal during winter. I did not find it funny when my home front friends sneered: “Do they need heaters in Los Angeles”? – Temperatures in LA similar as those in Belgium on winter days (48-52 F) … Did someone say:  ”climate change” ? My long yearned for LA visit got off with an unfavorable start.

Sunny at the beach in Santa Monica, with view of the Pier © Kaat Cleenewerck

Luckily, the sun and warmth returned to Santa Monica, attracting locals and visitors to the beach and the Pier. I could – again – go for walks on the shore while absorbing the healing energy of the ocean, giving my well-being a needed boost.

Some of my friends and I could enjoy a postponed Christmas dinner. And there was a fun NYE garden party with glitter & bells, fireworks in the Marina and many bottles of champagne ! Welcome to a new decennium!

Going for nice walks in the neighborhood with the lovely dogs, who consolidated me while being sick. Taking the youngest, little BeeBee, to Sunday mornings get-together with friends at the Santa Monica Farmer Market, where she stole everyone’s heart …

Glad to see my friend Ivo and his latest artwork: a beautiful, colorful mural on the street front of a public housing building in Venice.

My artist friend Ivo and me in front of his beautiful mural in Venice @ Kaat Cleenewerck

There was the excellent dinner – invitation by my friend Suzanne – at “Chez Jay” (a tongue-twister for sure), a landmark in Santa Monica, famous for its celebrity clients: Jim Morrison and Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe, among others, … A nice discovery.

Again I caught a cold (!) before flying back to Belgium, where I got permeated with different shades of grey. As in a bleak painting, the grey, and sometimes rainy skies have an negative impact on my mood. On top of that, the view of half-open garbage bags and carton boxes lying around on the sidewalks, that stay uncollected for days, confirms again that the center of Brussels is still filthy, not at all welcoming – and not different than other times when I am away for quite a while -.

Yet, there is always art that keeps me going. Checking out some new shows at galleries that have put themselves on the art scene map. In an elaborated article last December, the “Washington Post” praised Brussels as Europe’s epicenter for contemporary art ! The ‘new Berlin’ so to speak.

Keith Haring exhibition/retrospective at the Bozar © Kaat Cleenewerck

I look forward to visiting the retrospective of Keith Haring that is currently running at the Bozar, a renowned culture house in Brussels.

Last weekend there was “Bright Brussels”, a festival of light, to literally lighten up the city (and the grey skies!). The itinerary through the city consisted of fascinating light installations, i.e. putting beautiful light patterns on historic buildings. Or, to cite my Venice artist friend Amy: “#artsavestheworld”: art might save Brussels, but for sure art has – to some extend – saved (some difficult periods in) my life. 

Bright Festival lighting on the Church de Notre Dame de Sablon © Kaat Cleenewerck

Lesson learned: I better not go on a long-distance trip when my immune system has just slowly recovered (due to my appendicitis surgery last November) . Since one doesn’t want to get sick on vacation and especially in the USA, where you pay enormous amounts for health care.

Back in Brussels I was glad to be able to go to my doctor and physical therapist without having to worry about my finances.

And, yes, the sun (almost) always shines in Los Angeles, lightens up one’s day and (even) existence. That’s one of the many reasons, next to loving friends, I will keep returning to the City of Angels.

About Kaat Cleenewerck 11 Articles
After a 12 years "life adventure" in Los Angeles where Kaat Cleenewerck worked in independent film and as a journalist, she relocated a couple of years ago to her native country, Belgium. Yet, the ties with Los Angeles are still very strong, inviting, and most of all, inspiring.

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