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Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Grass is Always Greener

I know I'm not the only one who likes to walk around the fancy neighborhoods and dream.

I've always done it. In my Chicago days, while living in a studio apartment on Wrightwood near Clark Street, I loved driving the Oak Street curve and gazing at the gorgeous nineteenth century apartment buildings, wishing for an invitation into their glowing warmth.

In my early soCal time I had a small apartment in North Hollywood. I quickly discovered the Hollywood Hills, then Beverly Hills. Soon I began to waste gallons of gas, gawking along on those curving streets. An open gate was always a bonus, allowing me a peek.

Here in Pasadena we have our wealthy neighborhoods, our old money houses, our mansions. I walk the neighborhoods now—to enjoy them more, take pictures, save gas. And something else is different. It's not that I don't dream; it would be nice to be wealthy. But then again, I'm happy where I am. I've worked hard to get here.

John and I often enjoy a glass of wine on our front porch in the evening. Sometimes a young person strolls by with a dreamy gaze, and we know.

22 comments:

Laurie said...

Don't you just want to wander through that open gate? I'll bet there is a fountain somewhere back there.

Petrea, we are from the same tribe. For me, when I first moved here my choice was to drive my beat-up convertible around Mulholland and imagine what it was like to live with those incredible city lights views.

Petrea said...

Did you gasp at the view over Hollywood just east of Outpost? I still do.

Bernie K. said...

Nice shot! Three things make this work:

1. The gates' underexposure highlights the promised land beyond.

2. There's just enough dark-gate-value in the composition to balance the bright-garden-value. Harmony is inviting.

3. The asymmetry of the gates makes them more "alive," as if someone has stepped through before us.

You've got a natural eye.

Petrea said...

I knew I liked you for a reason, Bernie.

altadenahiker said...

What kind of wine? And I know what you mean, sometimes I think I love my little house as if it were a person.

Miss Havisham said...

You are rich beyond money.

Virginia said...

Petrea,
I knew I liked your photo, just needed Bernie to explain it for moi. Thanks Bernie for that quickie lesson. I am going to try hard and remember those tips.

I am just as bad about "peeping". When I was a little girl my grandmother caught me looking through the window at the neighbor's house. When asked what I was doing I said, "I just wanted to see how they live." I haven't grown up in a lot of respects.

USelaine said...

Gates and grand doors, those thresholds to the hidden world of seemingly endless resources. It's amazing what some people will do with their money (or won't, as the case may be). I'm thinking of that Beverley Hills mansion on Sunset with the painted statuary, where they filmed part of "The Jerk".

But what we're really hoping is to vicariously glimpse that sublime, secret garden, as you found for us here. We are on the outside, looking in, or if we get in, like Fanny in Mansfield Park, or Elizabeth in Pride & Prejudice, or Anne in Persuasion, we are sure we don't really belong. Austen created the classic romantic fantasies of, in the end, discovering that, yes, this is all yours now.

I got a good dose of what you describe in my two years a UCSB. The ramshackle student housing in Isla Vista certainly contrasted with Montecito. The longer we live, the more we realize no place is a complete refuge from suffering, but I'd like to do my suffering at the estate called Lotusland, if I may.

Lily Hydrangea said...

very warm, very inviting photo Petrea. I love how the gate opens to what looks like a porch with lush green gardens. The owners have created quite a sanctuary. This is why I peep, so that I can be inspired to do so in my however small, old home as well. I (like Altadena)too often think of my home as a person, it's probably all the energy leftover from all the people who have lived here and loved it just the same.

Ms M said...

I love shots like these. Sparks curiosity, wanting to know what's back in there.

I enjoy the variety of photos on your blog. :)

Katie said...

Oh to be walking through those gates with a chilled bottle of wine and some good food to spend the afternoon hanging out on this porch! What a delightful photo of a portal to anther world; and one where I'd like to live! I wander the Berkeley hills eyeing houses with that same "oh wouldn't it be awesome to live here" thought. I sometimes stop into open houses in my neighborhood when houses for sale to torture myself even more.

keith said...

1) What Bernie K. said.
2) In addition, you've managed to capture that feeling. That feeling of wonderfully exceeded expectations when we get to see what is actually behind the gate. Excellent!

marley said...

Not only a really interesting photo but lovely text too.

Petrea said...

Altadenahiker: we're not exactly connoisseurs. We found a Coppola pinot gris we like at Trader Joe's. If it's red, we're easy.

Don't I know it, Miss H. You are astute.

Virginia: "seeing how they live." That's it, that curiosity.

I remember that place, USE. It burned down around the time I moved here. You get me; my fantasies probably come from reading such tales as Austen's or even Grimm's. "The Secret Garden" has appeal for myriad reasons.

Lily Hy, you've hit on something else that's been coursing through me, the garden as sanctuary. Ours needs an overhaul and it's on my mind. Maybe that's what drew me to these gates.

Thank you so much for the compliment, ms m.

Katie, you remember this one on our stroll through the tony 'hood near the Gamble house. I was glad they left the gate open.

Thanks, Keith! Thanks, Marley. Thank you all. I needed a lift today and you've been so kind as to give it to me. I'm grateful whenever you drop by, and even moreso when you comment. You don't have to say nice things, it's just good to know you were here.

Cafe Observer said...

P, i saw you needed a lift 2day! Therefore, I was gonna send a cab over, or at least a forkLIFT. But, I can see the others beat me to it.

Then, I was gonna give you a $2,000 gift certificate to Samys Cam - but I already offered it to PA (palmaxis).

So, all i can offer is a freebie-meal at a cafe in the near future, and the knowledge when you feel down others are there to lift u up. But, if you're too heavy for us to lift up, then, if all else fails: try the husband or some chocolate...

Virginia said...

Petrea,
Thanks for your warm remarks. That was a lift for me. I am embarking on some "street" portraiture and having a hard time juggling the background, lighting, etc. etc. etc. The two subjects today were a joy. I am working on a project photographing some street people that visit a church in the area. These I won't post on BADP, but the journey with them is heartbreaking and rewarding at the same time.

Cafe Observer said...

P, I don't know how you could've told l.o. about Amys w/o also telling me!

Petrea said...

Virginia, I'll hate to miss that but I understand why you're not posting it. You'll do it brilliantly all the same.

L.O./C.O.: It's what I'm sayin'.

USelaine said...

In case you missed it, I've drafted about 30 seconds of "The P Files" over here. It's you, baby.

Chuck Pefley said...

It's always nice to be happy with what, who and where you are. I think that's called self-respect. Good thoughts and introspective with this post. Btw, I also had a "grass is greener" post from Montana a few days ago :)

Chuck Pefley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Petrea said...

Hi Chuck, nice to see you here. I confess I haven't toured our little blogosphere much lately; catching up after a brief trip has proven to be a big task. I love all the city daily photo blogs--they're eye-openers, every one. Today I think I'll visit Seattle (and Montana) through yours.