This is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the cold weather, the rain and the fact that it will turn on a dime and then become a gorgeous, sunny day. Just last week I was able to do some sun tanning in my backyard one day, and go skiing the next. Life in Southern California is pretty amazing. The daffodils are blooming and I have begun the spring cleaning of my backyard as I prep for the planting of this year’s flowers and my annual tomato patch. That makes for a wonderful way to spend a weekend.

There was so much overgrowth this year that I had to borrow a green bin from a neighbor, and that is a bonus of living in this small town, I know my neighbors. One of the nicest attributes of living in a small town is the fact that you get to know so many people. I’ve lived here for over 15 years, and in that time I’ve met hundreds, if not thousands of people. Some of them stayed in my life, some left quickly, some slowly.

But over the years I’ve amassed a large coterie of wonderful people in my life. And that is an asset that you cannot acquire except with time and effort. By staying put and having roots in a community, you get to experience a continuity in life that allows for happy coincidences to occur.

This past week I was on my way to Snow Summit to go skiing for a day. On my way, I remembered that one of my many friends recommended Mt. Baldy as a great place to ski, he said it was close, that it’s only 45 minutes from downtown Los Angeles and has some great runs.

I’d never been there before, so I thought I’d give it a shot. It’s a cute little Mom-n-Pop type resort with four chairs, some mediocre cafeteria food, but some awesome runs.

The morning was great. It was a mid-week ski trip and that means no crowds. There could not have been more than 75 people on the entire mountain. So I was pleasantly surprised to run into a friend who was celebrating his birthday with his daughter and his mother. It always makes me feel special when I run into someone I know in a place where I don’t expect to see them.

It reminds me that this world, for all its craziness, and the mass of humanity, most of whom I do not know, and will never know, can be a very small place. I like the feeling of it. I like being able to run into people wherever I go.

This past weekend I was asked if I could live in a small town. I immediately said no, but the reality is, I do. I rarely go east of Bundy, or south of Rose, unless I’m headed to court for some family law hearing. I grew up in a small town, we had only 16,000 people in my town, and it was very spread out. To me, that’s a small town.

Santa Monica isn’t really small in that way, but the feel of it is. At only 8 square miles we don’t have a lot of room, but the fact is I can pretty much walk down the street any time of day and run into someone I know, which means it’s a small town.

On Sunday I was walking my dog on the bluffs. It was a gloriously blustery day. The sun was peeking out from behind a bank of clouds, so it was making those striking rays of light, as the sky turned orange with streaks of blue. As I made my way back to my car, I heard a familiar voice call out, “Jeez, they’ll let anyone in the park won’t they?”

My friend Dennis had unknowingly parked right next to me and was coming down to watch the sunset also. We chatted for about 10 minutes and then it was too cold for us. But I was warmed by the connection that happened. It is the warmth of an easy friendship that has developed over a decade. That is what keeps me here. It is that comfortable lifestyle of being part of a community that makes life here so wonderful.

Yes the weather is great, and the eye candy is delicious, but in the end it is the friendships and the connections that sustain us as a community and make it livable. I think I want to take back my response to that question about living in a small town, I can and do, and I love it.


David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at or (310) 664-9969.

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