Comic: How the Los Angeles hills keep me sane

Illustration of a woman walking with a mask on.
(Illustrations by Laura Mishkin / for The Times)
These days I have a harder time getting myself to go on walks. From my window looking out on Echo Park Avenue, I can see a steady flow of people walking or running or biking. Eventually I leave my desk and join the stream.

Things feel different: Eyes are downcast; masks are pulled up tight. I feel weird taking up space and being in other people’s space.

Once I get higher in the hills, people become more sparse. I venture off the main avenue to explore a side street. On an empty street, I can think about what I’m seeing. I’ve come to love this part of the walk: I can breathe deeply, explore slowly and not worry about getting too close to anyone.



I can look out for interesting houses, gardens, moments. I stop for the big moments and the small. I slow for the impressive Postmodern mansion perched atop Elysian Heights 2and for the tree with wild green parrots nesting in it.

Up on Carroll Avenue I walk past the Victorian houses, completely convincing aside from the Priuses in the driveways.

I like looking out into the valleys, where houses nest in the landscape and palm trees and power lines punctuate the sky.

I realize how many local gems exist once I look for them. I think about how different my quarantine universe would look if I lived on another street or in another neighborhood.

Black Raven ZZ plants for Aquarius. Fiddle-leaf figs for Taurus. How to pair houseplants with your sun sign.

I’m used to crisscrossing L.A., but during quarantine I’m limited to where my feet can take me: My universe is now scaled to a mile radius around my house. I think about all other little walking universes that exist, the ones I do not know — small circles that move and grow but never touch.