Let’s get one thing out of the way. The Grove was made for you and your most basic self. It checks off all the boxes, accommodating all levels of basic. There’s a Cheesecake Factory, a Pressed Juicery, a Dylan’s Candy Bar and a Ladurée. There’s a Sprinkles tucked away in the corner for fuck’s sake. There’s that one Italian restaurant bar that my 19-year-old self thought was the bougie-est place ever that I would someday go to. There’s a Barney’s, a Nordstroms, a Banana Republic and an Anthropologie. I’m not sure what’s sadder, the very obvious selection of stores or the fact that I just listed these off from memory.
For all intents and purposes, I hate The Grove. It’s always filled with people, you can barely get around the fountain, even at 11am on a Tuesday. The parking structure is plastered with Warner Bros movie posters. I have wasted too much of my life going up and down those parking structure escalators.
But here’s the weird thing. I don’t actually hate The Grove. I hate that I don’t hate it. I hate that the magic somehow works on me. Maybe some of it is nostalgia. It used to be an easy escape from school, my friends and I practically know the way from Westwood to the parking lot by muscle memory. It’s mildly embarrassing how many times I’ve been to the Cheesecake Factory there. On the other hand, it should be somewhat impressive that I’ve only ever paid for parking there once.
Nowadays I only brave the parking lot with purposeful intention: to return something, to pick up emergency pastries from Dominque Ansel
, to go to the Apple Store, grab lunch at the Farmer’s Market
or to escape work (if you’ve ever worked in Mid-Wilshire or on Melrose, you’d understand). And sure, it’s still mildly hellish at times, but even I, a Cynical Angeleno™, can’t deny the magic of The Grove during the holidays.