By A.J. Llewellyn
As a kid growing up in Australia I fell in love with Hollywood...old Hollywood and pined for it from afar. When my father sent me to LA to stay with a woman he was dating and I began to attend school here, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I tasted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the first time. I baked brownies with my adopted siblings and best of all, the stores were open really, really late every single day AND we had a real Christmas tree!
I couldn't believe it when my dad and his paramour broke up. I think I was more heart-broken than she was.
I couldn't wait to come back here and live my life in Hollywood. And I did.
I have a strong passion for Hawaii and travel there at every opportunity but my life in LA sometimes seems...mundane, until I get out of town visitors.
Now that my friend and fellow author Serena Yates is visiting me I have creaked open the box that locked my Hollywood dreams.
It's been fun showing her the LA I know and love. What I have realized is how wonderful all of California really is. I've been dismayed to see so many changes, particularly in Ojai, a town of cowboys and orange groves. I am shocked it's now all high-end wine bars and uppity clothing boutiques. Even the once-grungy dive bar, The Hub, has had a lick or two of high-gloss paint.
But we still have our Hidden Mickeys, and I was pleased to discover, Astro Burgers.
For those who don't know, Hidden Mickeys are a secret passion for us Angelinos. The pic above was taken in Disneyland and is an air vent in one of the saloons on Main Street. The Hidden Mickey inside was is only part of the inside joke...the real Hidden Mickey is the cut-out ears on the front panel.
These little gems are all over LA...and people are obsessed with them.
Me, I'm just glad some things don't change. Not every piece of our precious celluloid paradise has been, to quote Joni Mitchell, paved over and turned into a parking lot.
I've enjoyed showing Serena the Brady Bunch house and some of my favorite little pockets of LA. Showing her these little treasures has made me fall in love with my home town again.
That in itself is a Hidden Mickey...one I didn't expect. Love is like that. Living in a place for a long time is like an enduring marriage that becomes very comfortable but not especially exciting.
An unexpected outside influence can shine a light on how lucky you really are and for that, I am grateful.
So thank you, Serena, and Mr. Walt Disney. You both have a piece of my heart.