And suddenly I was in her Cadillac convertible traveling at just a steady enough pace where I could feel the wind on my face but my hat stayed firmly on my head.
I had met her at Union Station when my train arrived. My cousin Tommy hollered when he saw me in my plaid shirt and torn jeans. “Oh shoot,” he laughed, “Didn’t anyone tell you this is Los Angeles?” He wore a pinstripe suit and fedora looking jazzed as could be. I felt like a regular ol’ fool.
Tommy introduced me to Isadora then. “Samuel, this is Isadora. She’s been in pictures. Thought you two would have a lot in common, what with your writing career and such.”
She looked like she stepped out of a film. Her hair was coiffed with curly strands framing her neck and her lips and eyes were perfectly done up. She was dressed to the nines like Tommy and I instantly wanted to know her.
“Pleasure to meet you, Ms. Isadora,” I said tipping my hat and reaching to kiss her hand.
“Izzy,” she smiled brightly. “And the pleasure is all mine.” Then she shook my hand. I realized I wasn’t in Nebraska anymore. And I was very happy about that.
We zoomed down the highway and I took in the sights of the city, with Izzy pointing out things here and there. She showed me the Chinese Theatre and told me she went to a film premiere there once. I’d never seen a more exquisite building.
“What’s this road we are on?” I said of the windy mountain road that seemed out of place amidst the bustling city.
“This is Mulholland Drive,” Izzy said, her eyes shaded behind sunglasses. “It runs from the mountains to the Hollywoodland sign!” She spoke with pure exuberance.
Her spirit was contagious, it was hard not to be excited about the town when she seemed so thrilled by it. “So you’re a writer?” She said.
“Well,” I started, “I wrote on the town newspaper back in Nebraska. I’m just hoping the Los Angeles Times will give me a shot.”
“They’d be silly not to,” she smiled, curls flipping around her face in the wind.
She cautiously drove the mountainous road and behind us I could see the California sunset on the horizon.
“Tommy said you were in the pictures! Which ones? I may have seen them.”
“Oh, I’ve been a chorus girl here and there. Nothing too big, ya know? But I’ll make it one day. My name will be in lights instead of the last name on the credit roll.”
“Still, that’s impressive.”
“They gotta gimme my shot, ya know?”
“They’d be silly not to,” I smiled.
She took her eyes off the road for a brief moment to meet mine. Though she was confident, I could see a flash of insecurity, of shyness, showing that she appreciated me believing in her. As if others rarely did.
“Look Sam! Welcome to Hollywoodland!” She pointed ahead of us and I saw the huge white letters mounted on the distant hill. The road stretched out before us, a concrete ribbon extending beyond each hill, and us, at the base of the hill, small insignificant beings awing at the wonder the sign held. It was part of the landscape, a part of each of us. A symbol, a reminder, of the time and the city, of places and people before and after us.
“It’s so big,” was all I could muster.
She laughed, showing genuine appreciation in my interest. She spent the whole day showing me around, acclimating me to California, that it wasn’t until days later I realized that Izzy was the kind of girl that could slowly turn my world from sepia to technicolor.