Meeting your heroes is a strange experience. The only thing stranger is finding out that you’re related to them.
I’ve always known to some extent that my sister Carissa is a BFD. But the point sank home recently when we visited her treetop hideaway in Hollywood. Three levels of white stucco and cool tiles built into the side of Laurel Canyon, reachable only by a thread-thin dirt pathway, her home is surrounded by woolly eucalyptus trees, eccentric neighbors and the most gothic of Los Angeles history.
The house’s inside is spare and consciousness-expanding, filled only with light and the smell of burning palo santo. It induces a monastic calm, hushed and humbling, a welcome feeling this close to the vainglory of Sunset Boulevard.
When I asked Carissa to give me the best and worst about where she lives, she asked if I meant Laurel Canyon or L.A.–“because they’re two different things,” she said.
Never one to turn down free insight, I asked for both.
What’s the best thing about living in Laurel Canyon?
“Feeling removed from a city and yet hovering over it. It feels more similar to me to the time we lived in Africa than anything else. The floor is always dirty, the doors are always open, you hear people on the street, but you’re hovering above it. I love the way the eucalyptus smells, especially in the rain. I like that we see deer and raccoons, even though we live in Los Angeles.”
What’s the worst thing about living in Laurel Canyon?
“You always have to be in your car. No one walks anywhere because there are no sidewalks.”
What’s the best thing about living in Los Angeles?
“You’re always meeting really interesting people doing really interesting things. Writers, designers, stylists, people making clothes, people making furniture–everyone has their thing they’re moving towards, which pushes me. If you’re here, it’s because you’re working really hard toward something.”
What’s the worst thing about living in Los Angeles?