My Thoughts, Exactly:

I’ve been writing this column for almost a year, so it might be time to let you in on a little secret about an activity my wife and I do as often as possible. Ready? We borrow neighborhoods. Yep. We take walks in ZIP codes other than our own.

The La Cañada neighborhood bordered by Angeles Crest, Foothill, Gould and Lynnhaven in particular attracts our purloined pedestrian moments. It’s not that we don’t appreciate living in our humble hometown environs. No sir. We’ve lived happily ever after at the same La Crescenta address since we were married way back when. We live almost smack dab in the middle between the home where I was raised and where my wife grew up. We both attended local elementary and junior high schools (she went Valley View and Clark, me to Monte Vista and Rosemont) and both graduated from CV High.

My point in pointing out the depth of our hometown roots is to confirm our love for the area. So why (as any reasonable person would ask at this point) don’t we take our walks close to home rather than sneaking over the border to La Cañada like a couple of undocumented migrant walkers?

The simple answer is that I find it slightly more interesting to walk past oh, say an immaculately maintained, two-story Spanish hacienda with a Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes S-class perfectly parked on the hand-laid brick circular driveway rather than a two bedroom stucco California ranch with two non-operable Pintos up on blocks on the oil-stained driveway (actual car models changed to protect the innocent) and three filled-to-the-rim trash bins at the curb waiting for next week’s pickup. But that’s just my opinion.

To my thinking, it’s the real estate equivalent to pressing your nose against the showroom window at the Rusnak Audi dealership on Colorado and imagining yourself behind the wheel of the breath-snatching new R-8 with the ridiculously-red high gloss finish and black carbon fiber side panels. Not that I’ve done that. Much.

Where was I? Oh, right. With this method of burning calories in other neighborhoods, I get much-needed exercise and exercise my imagination at the same time. Best of all, I can vicariously experience a small taste of living in the 91011 without the burden of astronomical property taxes or measuring up to high society’s more demanding expectations. Clever, huh?

My wife and I have been wayward walkers for several years now — so long that we’ve even gotten to know some of the dogs along our various routes. In fact, when one of our favorites passed away last summer, it felt as though we’d lost a good friend. We’ve watched with the curiosity of true locals as homes have been remodeled, are put up for sale and as new “neighbors” move in. I have no doubt many folks who wave or say “hi” as we walk by wonder where in the heck it is that we live. But unless they surreptitiously track us back to where we park our more-than-modest vehicle near the Starbucks on Gould, they’ll never know.

When we finish our walks, and before driving back home to La Crescenta, we often prolong our visit to the land of luxury living by enjoying a couple of lattes from the aforementioned coffee establishment. Because I don’t think you’re allowed to sweat east of Ocean View Boulevard, I usually sit outside and watch the parade of beautiful people go by.

Still wondering why we walk in La Cañada and not La Crescenta? OK. By the time you read this, my fourth and final “kid” will most likely have passed his behind-the-wheel test for a driver’s license. Which means he’ll be driving the streets of our neighborhood. Which is more than enough reason to walk the streets of some other neighborhood.

See you ’round the block.


JIM CHASE is a freelance writer and longtime CV resident. He can be reached at jim@wordchaser.com.

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