I’ve lived in or near the Toluca Lake area for 22 years. It was the first neighborhood I moved to from Nashville in 1998. I lived in NoHo and Burbank for a few years in between then and now, but I would still socialize in Toluca Lake whenever I could find a reason to do so. My partner, Danny, and I have been in Toluca Lake together for the past eight years. We love that it’s a walking neighborhood. We walk to Priscilla’s, Trader Joe’s, Spin the Bottle, Patys, Red Door, Hungry Crowd and even Mo’s back in the day … everywhere. We also have a really nice three-mile jogging route through the neighborhood. And we love Halloween in Toluca Lake. Every year we get out into the streets to see all the amazing decorations and costumes (ours included). We also have a wine tasting show on YouTube show called “Call Me a Cab” that we shoot from home. We are both in Southern California for the film industry and there’s not another city here that we would want to call home. Sometimes we’ll just be driving down Riverside Drive and say out loud, “We love you, Toluca Lake.” True story.
Right now, we’re catching up on movies we always meant to watch and shows we always meant to binge. And games on our phones with no judgment. We don’t have kids, so luckily we aren’t suddenly dealing with homeschooling. But thinking of those who are, I’ve been creating and posting free coloring sheets from a kids’ book I wrote and illustrated called “The Pig That Loved Pizza.” I figure parents can use the extra activities for the kiddos, so I will keep cranking those out as long as I can. We tried to get out for walks early on. We actually saw more neighbors than we ever had. Everyone else was feeling stir-crazy at the exact same time. People were being really respectful of the social distancing, though. I think the hardest part of that was not being able to pet the neighborhood dogs that were out for their walks. We know many of our neighbors more by their dogs than by their faces.
We’re taking the safety measures seriously, though. I was a little sad for Danny, knowing that he would be spending his birthday on lockdown. So I secretly contacted a bunch of his friends and family and had them send me video birthday wishes. The toughest part was editing it right under his nose. It wasn’t like I could work on it while he was out of the house. He was never out of the house. We managed to surprise him with the video, followed up with a Zoom birthday meeting. He said it was the best birthday, so I’d say we nailed that one.
I feel like social media has helped us all to communicate and help each other out as needed. If I couldn’t support a local business directly, I tried to share it on social media to spread the word to others to help if they could. Also, just sending messages of support and thanks to those businesses and workers that are still open so the rest of us could stay home. And I love the chalk art — please, please, please keep making the chalk art. It’s such a happy and hopeful thing to see.
Thank you to everyone who is still working: grocery workers, sanitation workers, restaurant workers, hospital workers, test site workers, first responders. And thank you to everyone staying home. Stay safe. Stay hopeful. And if you need help, just ask.
Return to The State of the Village.