She had come and lived here, in our house, ten years ago, a shy, thin, smart and curious girl of 20.

She lived in the front bedroom and seemed to spend her days studying, sitting on the bed, hunched over her laptop, emerging at night to sit down and eat dinner with us, and then going back in her room to study more.

On Monday morning, she began her week early and walked to the new Orange Line bus and went to classes at Valley College. She earned money tutoring and working in the computer lab. She made friends with other immigrant students, a girl and boy from Russia, a nursing student from Thailand.

Our tenant never complained about school, or money or fatigue.


After two years at Valley College, she walked in the house one day, and said, almost imperceptibly, that she had been awarded a full scholarship to UCLA, one that would eventually pay for graduate school, should she choose to go.

She graduated, with honors, in microbiology. But unsure of her next move, she worked at a software company in Westwood, where she eventually rose to oversee the marketing department, again spending her long days quietly concentrating on the computer, and focusing her fast brain on the logistics of statistics.

Outside of work, she was dating another graduate from UCLA, whom she eventually moved in with. He applied to graduate school, and they both moved to Boston so he could study there. But her LA company kept her on, and she regularly commuted back and forth from her Westwood office back to her Brighton apartment near Boston University.

He graduated and the couple moved back to Santa Monica. She applied to graduate school at UCLA and was accepted to an MBA program. He began work at Cedars-Sinai Hospital and at a private clinic near their apartment.


 

And yesterday afternoon, the first cool, cloudy day in several months, we met only the young lady in Westwood and later drove to Koreatown for lunch. And after we finished our meal, we got back in the car. She sat in the back seat and announced quietly she had broken up with her boyfriend of seven years.

She recounted her version of the story in cool, calm, measured tones. Emotion rationed and mostly banished, she had already moved out of her apartment and into new student housing near UCLA.

And so we pulled up to her new home in the gated complex. And she got out, thin and stylish, in a short white lacy dress, and walked into the dark courtyard, a single woman.

Something in me hurt as I watched her go inside, something that went back many years to Chicago where my grandmother lived alone in her apartment in West Rogers Park and I had felt compassion and sorrow for that lone woman in her own room.

The young woman in 2015, going back into her apartment alone, and my grandmother in 1975, were not the same.

It was only my mind- emotional and dark and contemplative and perceptive and interpretive- mixing past and present.

Here was another immigrant making their way in life, in a strange country, and succeeding, in education and work; a person who had less advantages than me, but one who possessed courage and hardihood.

I felt protective again as I did when she first came here in 2005. And I thought, driving home under the gray clouds through the Sepulveda Pass, that Louise Hurvitz, now in heaven, might want to hear this news.

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Writer/photographer

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