Yes, it took me awhile to get to where I was going, but that might be as much the fault of my staunch desire to avoid toll fees as it was the result of too many people driving too many vehicles on too few lanes. Toll fees are assuredly not my thing, especially when I'm in a state that requires cars to be affixed with some sort of special toll pass and I'm driving a rental car with a devil-may-care attitude.
My first LA experience, then, consisted not only of fun traffic and the attempted avoidance of toll roads, but also of, fittingly enough, my first experience with D. Fortunately, she was willing, and dare I say eager, to meet up with a new face and provide me with a memorable welcome-to-the-city-of-angels moment. She suggested that we spend time at the Farmer's Market, and I think it was the perfect suggestion, both at the time and in hindsight. D was kind, adventurous, and she let me be me, even if that meant that I wanted to ride the trolley and be way more excited about it then any 35 year-old man should be. As far as LA firsts are concerned, I don't think my brief engagement with D and her daughter could have been topped, at least not without going on that hike that she keeps talking about, or finding that ever elusive chocolate-covered banana. Next time, I hope.
Peter Kyle Podgursky is my brother-in-law. More specifically, he is my wife's brother. My first memory of him is when my wife, S, with me sitting right next to her in a Honda Prelude, called to tell him that she and I were engaged. He told her that she was too young to get married, hung up, and did not talk to her for months, maybe longer. He did, however, show up at our wedding reception, though I don't recall if he was sent an invitation. As odd as it seems to me, I think that he thought, and still thinks, that being at the reception, even though he had banished his sister from his good graces, was a show of support, or at least not an outward act of ruining her moment. They talk every so often now. I think it's a bit weird that S was so willing to accept him back into her life, but it's not my sibling relationship, and she's a lot better and a more forgiving person than I am. Besides, I've got some weird relationships with my family members, so I try not to judge her family ties.
I don't normally think about this first memory and didn't expect to talk with Peter about it when I met up with him. I expected only to eat some Hawaiian food at a restaurant that I'd never been to in a city that I'd never been in, and to get to know Peter and Los Angeles a little better. As with all of my Facebook friends that I visit, I try to build a better relationship and create a memory. But then he brought it up. It came up rather indirectly in a lengthy critique that he provided me in regard to my project and, specifically, the written portion of it.
Three weeks ago, while talking to my wife on the phone, Peter told her that he didn't like that I used my Facebook friends' initials when I wrote about my encounters with them. I don't think my motivation for doing it should matter to Peter or anybody else, but I do it as a tip of the hat to my wife. I've seen her write with initials. I like it and I like her, so I stole the idea and think about her fondly every time I refer to a Facebook friend only by their first initial. I asked him about this complaint of his today, and he expounded on the topic. Then he told me another thing that bothered him, then another, then another. At one point, he laid out for me what my write-up of our meeting could look like so that it would be better than what I'd written in the past. It was during this time that he mentioned the weirdness that is my earliest memory of him, as an example of how I could introduce him. So I guess I'm obliging, even though it feels unnatural, and maybe even cold.
Peter might be a much better writer than I am. If he were to make that assertion, I feel as though I wouldn't have enough information or energy to argue against it. And it would make sense. He has been trained and educated in fields that would help him to be superior to me in that area. So I welcome his feedback, and anybody's feedback really. While I like to write, I know that I'm not a perfect writer and have tons of room for improvement. But I like doing it, enjoy the process, and, mostly, do it for myself, whether one chooses to accept this or not.
Peter did give me some ideas about my writing that I have considered and will continue to consider. For that reason, I'm happy. I'm also happy that, because of Peter, I was able to experience Rutt's Cafe and The Museum of Jurrasic Technology. But the manner in which Peter presented his feedback to me was, at best, poor. It reminded me of those afternoons at Manna, where seemingly well-intentioned people tried to help me become a better person by telling me of a diety. But at least when I attended Manna, the message I heard was not unsolicited. For every useful thing I gleaned from my conversation with Peter, there were at least a couple of things that were white noise. But I'll figure it out, make sense of it, and find a way to transform it into something of value to me. So, while I think I may be a better writer tomorrow than I am today, whether that is a result of Peter's words or despite them remains to be seen.