The first time I tried to go to the original L.A. Farmers Market was about a year after we moved here and while my parents were visiting. I was pretty unfamiliar with L.A. proper at the time, spending most of my days in the South Bay and rarely ever getting on the freeways.
Which might explain why I took the worst route ever.
We were stuck in creepy-crawly clusters on the 405 and 10, then Fairfax was stop-and-go. The drive I can now do in 40 minutes took more than an hour and a half because of my lack of local knowledge.
By the time we arrived, Mom was spent. She was fighting cancer and her energy level was delicate. I was a swearing mess. The sun was beating down with summertime vengeance. The parking lots were completely full. I was squeezing my Beetle through tiny openings to weave through the backed-up parking lot traffic. Tourist trap, indeed.
We said to hell with it and went to the beach instead.
But I eventually came back. On a day not so hectic. An earlier morning. A more leisurely pace. There was time to salivate over the food. We bought a pastry or two. Ate lunch at Monsieur Marcel (highly recommended). We walked the food off at The Grove, stopping at Anthropologie, as always, just to smell the place.
Walked some more. Checked out the tacky tourist shops. Laughed over things we found. Bought overpriced Thai tea to take home later and brew.
Last month we took Alexa for the first time.
The market was getting off to a slow start that day. People were crowding the crepe stand but in general we had the place to ourselves. Alexa was determined to check out the sights for herself, asking to "get down" only to run off. We would pick her back up and the cycle started over again.
H kept track of our curious one while I snapped photos in manual mode. I took 20 photos of cupcakes. Clearly I was hungry, but I held strong and let my lens do the tasting.
I'm always comparing like circumstances. I guess that's human nature.
For instance, wouldn't it have been sweet if that first failed trip, complete with my parents, could be transposed onto this leisurely morning with my daughter? Like a thin transparent layer that melts into the other layer, creating The Perfect Scenario. So that everyone would be there together and experience the same good time.
Mom could hold Alexa's hand. Dad and H could order some coffee. I could take photos of it all. And maybe have a cupcake, too. Damn, those cupcakes looked delicious.
What ifs are nice and all. But reality is perfectly nice, too. Alexa's face lit up to explore a new place. Dad has eaten (leek soup, nonetheless) at Monsieur Marcel's before. H and I are never really that far from a cupcake, should we want one. And Mom -- she is always with us in spirit.