Bridget Hoida on: Down Elevator

I’ve been working on my down elevator. The sixty-second reply to: “So what’s it about?”

Maybe this means I live in the wrong town, because elevators ’round here are two, maybe three stories, tops. And clearly–with the yarn I’m spinning about what my book’s about–I need sixty-seven floors of hand-pulled dumbwaiters.

Recently, I tried to tell a friend that I had written a “family saga.” I suppose that because So L.A. tells the story of siblings, and one of them dies, I felt justified in using the words “family” and “saga” in close proximity. Thank goodness she’s a good friend. Thank the stars and the moon (and all things shiny and not made of cheese) that she’s also an extraordinary writer, well read, exceptionally intelligent and beautifully kind. Had she not been all of these things, and one of the best friends of my life, she may not have said:

“That’s not how I would’ve described So L.A. I think I would’ve said, ‘It’s about love, and it’s about beauty. And it’s about how both of those things turn out to be a lot more complicated than you (or Magdalena) might think.”

Can we pause here? For just a moment. Jaws dropped with gratitude for the enormous hearts of our friends.

Because this is why we share words (and not just our best ones). And why, if we are exceptionally lucky, when we share even our worst words, with our best friends, they can see past the saga and the melodrama and find for us a little bit of truth. A little bit of magic.

Now pretend we’re on the eighth floor. Just you and me. You’ve just pushed the down arrow and it’s glowing green as we wait for the ding of the elevator as it climbs to meet us. Look. Here it is. The doors slide open. Mind the gap. Step inside. And listen–just as the doors shut–while I say:

So L.A. is about anyone who has ever found themselves struggling to pop the beauty bubble. It reads well in that quiet moment after everyone’s left the party and you’re still standing, with a blister on your left foot, from a pair of shockingly beautiful—and fabulously unwearable—rhinestone sandals. It’s about love, and it’s about beauty. And it’s about how both of those things turn out to be a lot more complicated than we might think.

P.S. If you’re looking for the best down elevator, or up elevator too, for that matter, I highly recommend the lift of the Los Angeles Public Library, Central Branch. This particular elevator uses some of the seven million original cards from the library’s catalog and displays them in stunning fashion. Using the card catalog artist David Bunn “papered the inside of the elevator cabs and lined the shafts which are visible through a viewing window in the cabs. The elevators also display a digital readout of the Dewey Decimal numbers for each floor the elevator passes.” For the bibliophile, as well as those well versed in retro-fetishism, it’s so striking you may in fact find yourself speechless. Which is not a bad thing, especially when in an elevator surrounded by so many books.