"We are starting our gradual decent to Las Angelas where it's sunny and currently 97 degrees," the pilot announced over the intercom. I smiled at myself and glanced over at Erick. He was plastered to the window like a child at a toy store to which he was not allowed to enter. Less than a year ago I thought the same.
"Why do I want to spend the money to see over-aggressive people and concrete? Not to mention the air pollution. What's the draw?" Erick had pretty much said this repeatedly sense Vali, our close mutual friend, suggested we come visit her years ago. Every year I would comment or hint suggestions of going, but always these conversations ended the same: no.
Despite our lack of visiting her, Vali and her boy friend, Gio, always managed to come up here and visit. Sometimes their visits were a quick hello at the park. Other times it was longer. But the fact remained that she made the effort. She came all the way up for our wedding when I know it wasn't the easiest of times for her to do so. The least we could do was go down there and when better to do so than for her 30th birthday.
This was my response one day early in the year to Erick's non-compliance and it finally clicked for him. I, for once, was absolutely 100% right. Let me clarify. Erick was never against hanging out with our friends, he just was prejudice against the city and what he thought he knew about it. However, he was willing to open his mind, so to speak, for the sake of good friends to which we honestly have few.
The first night there they treated us to an awesome sushi restaurant. As Portland engineers sucked at their freeway designs, so did LA engineers at creating enough parking around their commerce. This lead to a valet parking market to which every place we went had the service available, even when it was a bit unnecessary. We opted out and parked up a street around the corner of the restaurant. I think pretty much it was the steepest street in the valley, but we weren't phased because we were anticipating all you can eat sushi that was assured to be beyond the grocery store quality of Tadai's in Portland.
We sat down and were given a menu with "the rules". Rule number one: you must eat everything, including the rice, before being allowed to order more. No problem. Rule number two: you must eat everything on your plate for the all you can eat to be put into effect or you will be charged for the individual sushi (which was ridiculously priced). Okay, we can do this. We ordered and it was delicious. The high quality meat wrapped in delicate layers of seaweed and rice disappeared off our plates, hesitating only to taste what someone else had ordered. Before we were ready, the food was gone. It was so good. The best by far we had ever experienced. We needed more. We craved more like a drug we couldn't get enough of... And then the emotional need crashed to a demanding physical halt. We were full and there before us, so perfectly wrapped, so beautifully displayed were two full rolls taunting us, laughing at our idiocy. Damn rule number 2! DAMN YOU! We couldn't afford it, we had to finish. Oh God, how it hurt. We tried breathing deep. Our hands shook. We closed our eyes and just plowed through. Not even chewing. Not even caring. Vomiting would be a blessing each of us were incapable of doing. There was a moment where we didn't think it possible, where we considered giving in but we didn't. We made it! We ate it ALL. Damn you rule number 2! You did not defeat us!
With our stomachs so hard that I had a humorous fascination with it for the following hour, we left undefeated and that gave us enough energy to take a drive up to the observatory. The night was warm and clear and everyone around us and within our private circle were happy. This vacation rocked and it was only the first night!