I don’t find concrete romantic. I like trees. If given the choice between a crowded freeway and a sweaty train, I’d make out with the glistening subway seat, bar none. Furthermore: pizza is better than tacos, buildings should be tall, “tan” is not a personality, parking is hell, and I’m too pragmatic for crystals. Which begs the question—why do I live in Los Angeles?
I did not love LA when I moved here. My mom visited shortly thereafter and asked if it was all I’d hoped it would be. I said no. She asked if I liked it. I said no. She asked where I’d rather be. I said anywhere else. Then she hit me with the hardest blink this side of an eye condition, opened the door to my Passat, howled, and ran. Didn’t see her ‘til the next full moon. Still didn’t like LA.
This distaste with my city (ew, “my city”) has been a kind of refrain for the last year. It’s an easy excuse for a lack of forward motion. How was that interview? It never rains. Why haven’t you written more? So much traffic. Are you happy? Hiiiiigh rent. It’s a call and response in which I’ve become well practiced. It’s safe. And it’s boring. Casual hate is boring. May as well hate like I mean it. Hate like an American. Did you hear that pin drop?
But complaining is exhausting. It doesn’t burn calories. It gathers them. I accumulate countless kelvins getting steamy over poorly paved right lanes. I’ve allowed myself to become afflicted with the LA shrug—that thing you do with a toss of a hand and a self-deprecating remark about how “whatever” your most recent accomplishment is. If someone could peel the skin from my body the next time I gesture with flourish, please.
What can you do? That’s the culture. That’s part of it. No one likes LA. It’s a dusty stain. It’s necessary, never loved. That’s the deal. That’s how we cope. But doesn’t that, what’s the word, suck? Sucks spit. Sucks a perpetually refilling infinity-edged pool of spit.
I’m tired of that. I’m tired of being at odds with my surroundings. I’m tired of fighting LA. My negative energy is better placed elsewhere. Like with our impending regime change. Or Rihanna dismissers. Within the cracks and the smog and the haircuts, there is something to love here. I can see it in the way green bends east. In the democracy of food. In the absurdity of the superficial. Los Angeles is an amalgam of smoke and mirrors, tricks and dye jobs. I could choose to take the laid path—the one of eye-rolling and other coast whispering—or I could embrace the magic of it all. In view of better things, this place exists. It thrives. People flock here for a reason, more than just a high of 75 and a breeze like nobody’s business. Los Angeles is a place of improbabilities. Fame leaps from person to person to dog like a horny frog. Rhyming is encouraged. Good fortune is measured not by money in the bank, but in fleeting moments on screen. We’re all pretending to like soup right now. The place is crazy.
Still, the sun shines high and we roll on—hills glinting, stars rising, glamour and polluted air spreading wide. I moved to LA. I chose it. So instead of disparaging, I think I’ll choose to be entranced. To tilt my head at insecure palms, balk at models in the cereal aisle, wait for rain. Because I’m okay with waiting. Love is waiting. LA, I’ll wait for you.