Uit: Lucky Break
“When the Lindens arrived in Los Angeles it was raining. Not drizzling, or even pouring, but streaming down outside the glass doors of the arrivals lounge in thick, grey sideways slices. Water sluiced along the airport roads, tumbling in the gutters, spinning in the wheels of the taxis that splashed up to collect the lucky people at the head of the queue.
Dan and Jemma stood and stared out through the sheets of glass. ‘Blimey,’ they said, almost in unison and Dan put his hand up to his mouth and laughed.
‘I’m cold.’ Their eldest child, Honey, shivered in her pink T-shirt and Dan knelt down to rifle through the bags, removing as he did so numerous insubstantial outfits which they’d packed with the expectation that the five of them, lifted out of a grey London morning, would be enjoying an endless bright blue Californian afternoon.
Dan and Jemma had rented a house in the hills. The house had been recommended by a friend of Dan’s, although at the last minute his wife had interjected: They can’t stay up there! They’ve got to be by the ocean. In Santa Monica.
‘But Santa Monica’s extortionate, and you don’t even get a pool,’ Dan’s friend had told her, ‘and what’s the point of LA if there’s no pool?’
Jemma and Dan had listened nervously. They’d already said yes to the house in the hills, paid their deposit, filled in numerous forms for insurance, gas, electric and telephone, and so neither of them mentioned Santa Monica or the ocean again. Instead they talked about the pool. ‘The pool, the pool,’ they repeated like a charm and the children tugged on their swimming costumes, blew up their arm bands, and ran shrieking up and down the draughty, carpeted stairs of their north London home.
The higher they drove the more heavily it rained. It clattered on the roof of the taxi and washed in sheets over the windscreen, and occasionally when the driver stopped to call the number they gave him for directions they could see the water rushing past them down hill over the cobbled streets. ‘Got it, got it,’ he assured their landlord who was waiting with the key, but then almost immediately they became lost again, roaring along narrow roads, catching glimpses of lit-up Spanish villas and rain soaked ferns and the same few street names over and over again.”
Esther Freud (Londen, 2 mei 1963)