At 5:46 a.m. this morning, I received a phone call from Gateway Plumbing and Heating, informing me that they were sending a team over to my apartment, between 10 a.m. and noon, to take a look at the boiler that had mysteriously stopped working Saturday afternoon.
For Gateway, this was not a particularly early call. After all, they were in New York, where it was a very reasonable 8:46 a.m., while Jean, Sasha and I were at the start of a two-week vacation in Los Angeles. A vacation that began with:
• pouring rain and low temperatures throughout the area, scheduled to last till Thursday
• a small leak in the skylight of the beautiful West Hollywood home we rented, which resulted in a wet countertop and a bit of worry
• and, of course, the boiler troubles back home, which necessitated a lot of calls—between myself, the repair company, and the kind friend who is house-sitting for us—and will cost a bundle.
This is not so much a complaint as it is a reminder that—for me, and probably for a lot of parents—vacation is a lot like not being on vacation. The responsibilities remain the same: taking care of the kids, organizing a kitchen, talking to repairmen. I’ve also been doing interviews for an upcoming story, and will have to do more, and I want to write some other stuff, and and and. I’ve been trying to think back to a time when I went on a trip with no worries and no story to be written afterwards, and I can’t quite do it.
All of this is mitigated by the ridiculously beautiful (and affordable) house we’re in. Owned by an architect and a fashion designer who have two children, it’s huge, newly built and well-designed, with an unending array of things that are making our lives easier.
But what’s weird is the parallels we keep spotting. Certain bits of Ikea furniture and tableware are identical to the ones we own, which shouldn’t be a surprise given Ikea is the world’s biggest manufacturer of furniture. The kids’ library contains books everyone owns—”Goodnight, Moon,” for instance—but also tomes we haven’t seen around much, like “Waddle.” The chalkboard-painted wall. The Britax car seat. The Saveur subscription. The leaking skylight. This, my friends, is Bizarro World—a replica of our Brooklyn lives, only executed with a bit more taste and a bit more money.
Of course, not everything is the same in Bizarro World. The cutting boards are wood, not plastic, and instead of a microwave we have two cats. (And Moshie and Margot are terrible when it comes to reheating food.) Or, take the recycling. In Brooklyn, we put bottles, cans, paper, and cardboard aside, and every once in a while we it all in blue bags and take them down to the curb. But there’s a lot of crap we don’t recycle; we just throw it away.
Here, everything gets recycled—or composted. In fact, there’s no “regular trash” depository. Everything is either paper or plastic, metal or glass, or organic. Which leads to questions like: where does dental floss go? And what about the paper-wrapped metal twist-ties holding the bundle of organic celery together? There’s nothing like standing for five minutes in front of a multi-receptacle Ikea pull-out drawer to make you feel like you missed some vital life schooling, or maybe that you don’t yet deserve such wonders.
But at least the heat works, and come Thursday, when the sun emerges, I’m sure we’ll be chucking orange peels and milk cartons away with hardly a thought.