An expatriate of New Orleans – and professional chef – who has lived in Los Angeles since her childhood, blogs about the journey from New Orleans to Los Angeles back to New Orleans, and points along the way.

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Leaving Los Angeles

By on Jul 2, 2014, 11:21 am in Personal Reflection | 11 comments

View of Los Angeles from the hills


Eighteen and a half years ago, I left New York City. It was a very difficult move for me, to be sure – although not nearly as difficult a packing job as the one I am currently wrapping up has been. I lived in a studio apartment, and had been stashing things bit by bit at my parents’ house in Los Angeles for a few years before that. It took me only a few days to pack versus the few months this has taken.

My intention at the time was to spend a year with my parents in Los Angeles, then it was on to the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. After graduation, I planned to stay in the Bay Area – even had all my things from New York move there and stored. But at the end of that year, just a month before I was scheduled to enter culinary school, my father died, on January 1st of 1996.

I was able to delay the beginning of my start at CCA by about 6 weeks. It was a very tough year. I drove back to L. A. once or twice a month, to help my mother and brother sort through all the kinds of things one must after someone dies.

My mother had never lived alone. She went straight from her mother’s house to her husband’s, as so many women of her generation did, so she began finding other places to sleep at nights – a cousin whose husband worked graveyard shifts, another widowed friend who could stand being alone even less than Mom could. After graduating, I eventually moved back in with her, but after a couple of months, she decided she didn’t really like living with me either, so moved in with her widowed friend – well sort of. All of her things stayed in the house she lived in with my father, and she would come spend days there often, but never slept there again. She stayed in the house with her fellow widow, until just a few years before she died, when she moved into a lovely home two blocks from the beach in  Redondo with my brother.

And that is how I came to live all those years in the beautiful house in Baldwin Hills that I have just left.

Getting out was an ordeal. When I explained to a friend of mine how the packing and clearing was going (after going through the layers of my stuff, there was the layer of my mother’s underneath), she said “ so, it’s like an archaeological dig”.  A good description. Unfortunately for this process, my mother and I were both pack rats. And the emptying of the house is still not a completely done deal.

I am not sorry to be leaving Los Angeles, and doubt that I will miss it much. But I will very much miss this house with its walls of windows and sliding glass doors, and its lovely views of the city below, especially the awe-inspiring one I woke up to each morning. I will miss the myriad birds calling to each other down the hill, just outside my window – the pair of Cooper’s hawks that occasionally lit on the railing of my balcony patio, and the red tail hawk that spent time in the tree outside my window.

It has been the house of many gatherings of family and friends over the past 32 years, and I  am certainly not the only one saddened that it will be sold. But then, life brings changes, doesn’t it? I can only hope that the next occupants of the house will love it as much as I have. And now it’s on to my new life in New Orleans – after my time in the Bay Area and wine country, of course.


View on an overcast morning



  1. Thank you so much for reminding me of dates and events in your life.
    I wish you safe travel and the abilities to unpack all your emotions as well as UN pack in NOLA. Hold that gorgeous picture in your heart.

    Avatar Peggy

    July 2, 2014

  2. ah, what a lovely bit of your life you served up with views on the side. Thank you my dear, Blessings on the journey home to the place of your dreams. Look to see you there this fall.

    Avatar Ann Keeler Evans.

    July 2, 2014

  3. Complex emotions for sure. Beautifully felt from this reader’s perspective. GREG

    Avatar sippitysup

    July 2, 2014

  4. Gisele, a frank, honest remembrance of family and how sometimes one’s life plans can quickly change, or be put on hold. I wish you safe, happy travels back to New Orleans. I hope you will keep us posted on this new chapter!

    Avatar ronnie

    July 2, 2014

  5. Gisele, I can’t wait to hear about your new adventures and new life in New Orleans – safe trip, my friend!

    Avatar Lizthechef

    July 2, 2014

  6. It was a very brave decision for you to leave, so kudos. I know how hard it is to move when you’re a pack rat since my mother was the worst and I inherited that gene. Best of luck with your next chapter in NOLA!

    Avatar Lentil Breakdown

    July 2, 2014

  7. What a beautiful memoir of that lovely home! Wishing you smooth journeys ahead … xxxxx

    Avatar Valerie Geller

    July 2, 2014

  8. Gisele, I’m with Lizthechef. We’ll miss you, but we look forward to your accounts of the amazing new life you’re going to (re)create for yourself back home. New Orleans rocks, and you’ll up the ante, I’m sure!

    Safe travels, Carol

    Avatar Carol Penn-Romine

    July 3, 2014

  9. Thank you all, so much for your good thoughts and wishes.


    Avatar Gisele Perez

    July 3, 2014

  10. Gisele, we will miss you dearly. A well-written essay, and you have worked VERY hard to get to this point. Many blessing to you on your next adventure.

    Avatar Patti Londre

    July 3, 2014

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