Dear Los Angeles,
I’ve been living in your expansive, complex, beautiful sprawl for over a year now, and it’s been quite a wild ride thus far. In some ways you’ve met my expectations, but in total, this relationship has grown and evolved in ways I could have never imagined.
I came here worried I’d hate driving alongside “California drivers,” as some Arizonans derogatorily refer to maniacs who cut you off and zip by smugly. Worse than that, I was worried that I couldn’t drive your streets; I thought that maybe the freeways would be so fast and frightening that I simply wouldn’t have it in me to get behind the wheel. I fretted about this for months before moving, but within a day of driving your crowded streets, I realized that I’m rarely moving fast. And surprisingly, I’m becoming a “California driver” myself. Many Californians (though definitely not all) drive smart, aggressively, and prepared to slam on their breaks or move out of the way at any given moment. Despite the often unbearable traffic, I somehow enjoy driving here.
I’ve learned that you’re nothing like the way you’re depicted in film and television. Because I had visited you quite a few times before moving, I knew you weren’t really similar to the way the reality shows on E! or Bravo showcased you. You’re more than that. I’d describe you as a place that’s gleaming with grit and glam. You have personality. You’re a fucking bizarre city. I love that. I love how weird you are. I love that weird people have a place here. I love that dreamers come here. I love that when I meet people, they don’t grill me about what I want to do with my life and how I’m going to achieve it. I can just live here. I can be weird here. And I can dream here too.
Though you’re a city of dreamers, you’re also a city of broken dreams. You’re a city of mistakes and mistreatment. You’re a city that seemingly ignores its homeless population. You’re a city where systemic racism is self-evident. I’ve never lived in a place where the division of class is so palpable; where the rich are so rich and the poor are so poor. It isn’t okay. The reality of what day-to-day life is like in Skid Row is an atrocity, and your neglect of those living on the streets outside of downtown is outrageous as well. I hope that I see the day when you tackle homelessness head on and compassionately.
But back to the good stuff.
You’re a place where people from every corner of the planet come to build a new life. You’re a city of immigrants. Families cross borders and oceans to greet you; and they make you a more interesting and beautiful place to call home for everyone.
You’re also a magnet for those who desire self-discovery. You welcome eccentricity. You ignite creativity. You’re electric. In Los Angeles, I want to make things. I want to absorb, and learn, and explore, and create. I’ve met so many people who are constantly producing art and soaking in the work of others. And so many of these creators are critically minded as well – they know that what they make has an impact, and that they have a certain level of responsibility in creating something meaningful.
There’s so much more I could say, but I’ll end with the weather. It’s been damn hot these past couple of days, but your warm weather is still nothing close to the scorching desert summers from where I come from. Truth be told, your climate alone is reason enough to call Southern California home.
So while our relationship may have its ups and downs, I want you to know, I truly dig you Los Angeles. You’ve become my new home. You’re not the city that made me, but I feel as though I was made for you.