Last autumn, my friend Ve and I decided that we deserved a trip away. ‘Fuck it,’ we said, ‘Let’s go to LA. YOLO!’
(and, you guys, this is where collecting air miles comes in very handy. My return flight to Los Angeles on Virgin Atlantic was £290. Taxes only. What an absolute STEAL!)
In any case, whilst we were there I used to opportunity to visit a little beachside town just south of LA. It’s a town I’ve written about pretty extensively, but until last Monday, had never actually been to. Seal Beach, Orange County. It’s the town my book is set in. It’s where Jesse Franklin lives. And as it turns out it was absolutely perfect and I completely fell in love with the place. Gah. Typical.
Never have I been so proud of myself for randomly sticking a pin in a map and committing to it.
We took an Uber there from Venice, and during the drive I sat and looked out of the window and took it all in. I looked at the mountains on the horizon, and at Downtown LA flicking in and out of view as the freeway curved around, and all the neighbourhoods and the long stretches of road, all places I’d navigated extensively on Google maps and had only visited in my head. We pulled up by the pier and it felt so familiar.
After a stint on the beach, we ambled down Main Street, and poked around in boutiques where Cassie would almost certainly buy all her clothes (I picked up a dress and some jewellery. Would have been rude not to, really). We went to a coffee shop and drank iced lattes. We ate chicken wings and chilli cheese fries and drank a vanilla flavoured beer called Cali Creamin’ for lunch, and we strolled down the pier, watched the sun glint off the water and gazed at the outline of Catalina Island far off in the distance. We looked over the side at the ocean slapping against the legs of the pier and we walked right up to the chain link fence at the end.
We walked down the street with the beach houses on, and I tried to figure out which one of them would have been perfect for my book, but I couldn’t decide; they all were.
Honestly, I felt quite emotional walking around. I make zero secret of the fact that my books are one of my most proudest achievements, and going to their home felt really special. I felt connected to Seal Beach in a way I didn’t expect at all.
And I told everyone I met there about my book; a very lovely British expat we met in Bogart’s, who was surprised to hear another British accent in such a small Californian town. The girls in the boutiques we went to, and the guy we saw walking down the beach holding a god damn guitar. Jesus Christ, can you believe it? It was too good an opportunity to pass up.
We got a taxi back to Venice late in the afternoon, and although I was almost a bit sad to leave my book home, I was so glad to have made the trip out there. It might not be the most glitzy or well known of OC beach towns, but one thing is for absolute certain, I’ll definitely be back.