To much of the L.A. planet, however, it’s not the end at all. People react not only to the social assignations of neighborhoods, but to streets. Our main drag to the east is Crenshaw Boulevard, which the public mind associates with Boyz N the Hood, not Palos Verdes, the tony peninsula that lies at its south end. I would hardly be surprised if one day P.V. quietly renamed its portion of Crenshaw something more genteel, the way Redondo Beach and other South Bay enclaves changed their portions of offending Compton Avenue to Marine. The main street to our west is Prairie, which runs alongside the Forum and has proved useful only to Quentin Tarantino, a filmmaker who owes at least some of his iconoclastic vision to many of L.A.’s least-thought-of locales. (In Pulp Fiction, Samuel L. Jackson observed with some disdain that he didn’t have many partners in 818 as he drove through the pleasant but featureless San Fernando Valley.) But Inglewood has also been filmed idyllically. Several years ago, while sitting through the guileless comedy Wayne’s World, which is set in a sleepy, largely white Midwestern burg, I was startled to recognize Fairview Avenue as Inglewood’s own. I felt vindicated, then peeved — why couldn’t Inglewood just play itself? I knew the answer as I asked it: because it, and other places like it, are significant only as the buffer, the undisputed end of Oz where we know to stop or make a detour or proceed with caution. Such is the axis on which the world of L.A. real estate turns, and any amount of Inglewood boosterism is not likely to change this redlined global order.
But none of these realities can prick my bubble of excitement about moving back home, or the triumphal, at-last satisfaction of becoming a homeowner and a certifiable adult at 39. My husband and I have no plans to lobby for street-name changes to suit any lurking social aspirations. We are not interested in breaking away from the city to become a new little stigma-free but oddly stranded republic, which is how North Hills came about when certain Panorama City residents started looking askance at certain others. Yet, sociological analyses notwithstanding, our motives in moving here are about as middlebrow as anybody else’s — we wanted the small but jewel-like lawn, the hummingbird feeder outside the kitchen window, the luxuriant quiet. We got all that. I’m getting it twice. The stuff of dreams, and of home, ranges all over the Thomas Guide map. Probably on those missing pages.