A Love Letter to Los Angeles

So listen, I realize it’s pretty readily apparent that I’m fairly enamored of Los Angeles, but my beloved city and I will be entering into a long-distance relationship fairly soon, so hear me out. (I also wanted one last LA post to show a little love for some of my recent photos from around East Los Angeles.)

See, I suppose it’s telling, the way a place affects you even when you’re away. How you don’t just miss it, but you feel like you’re missing something when you’re not there. Missing out, missing a part of yourself, even. I’ve only ever felt that way about one place, Los Angeles, like a little bit of me has always been here, and always will be, no matter how far I go. My first flight was to Los Angeles, and I swear I’ll remember that summer more fondly, more vividly than most other things in my life. Swimming in the hotel pool at night, watching lightning tear across the sky, staring up at the towering palms in wonder and feeling so small and yet so incredibly alive and ready for the world. I recall leaving and feeling, even then, that I would be back, someday, somehow.

A winter sunset in East LA

As a teen, I found myself drawn to music, books, photos, films in and around and about Los Angeles. It was a siren song, this promised land. This place of endless summer and golden sunsets, of air that never turned cold and skies that never went gray, of creativity and possibility coursing up and down the coast. A world awash in gemstone hues and that certain slant of the sun that made me ache for so much more. I hated living in the rain, hated my small town life, the mundanity, the repetition, the sameness. I was an angsty, emotional teen, never without my earbuds and forever lost in my own mind, a walking cliche. And the Los Angeles they told me of, it was all cliches, too; everyone’s crazy, flaky, shallow, the city is seedy, it’ll steal your soul and eat you alive. But I didn’t listen, I couldn’t listen, I didn’t have the option of remaining where I was. Anywhere was better than here, and if I could make it there…

I’ve lived here for two and a half years, and the only cliches I see are the ones that have drawn people here for decades. A palm tree always in sight, rarely a chill in the air, never a dull moment. Freeways always coursing, city lights sparkling, low slung hills burning purple like the dying embers of a bonfire along the warm sands kissing the Pacific. It’s kinetic, it’s magical, it’s always in motion. There’s something in the air, in the water, in the slant of the sun and feeling that absolutely anything could happen. And yet, contrary to popular belief, Los Angeles has its quieter moments, too. In golden Sunday afternoons, in picnics in the park, in twilight drives to clear your head.

Like any city, like any place that has ever existed, it has its flaws, its wounds and scars. But I truly believe that the people who call this place home are some of the hardest-working, most good-hearted that I have ever met, anywhere, and have a love for this city of which I could only scratch the surface, people who would, and are, giving everything they have to help this place reach its full potential. Because Los Angeles is a place that always been home to people who love deeply, hope wildly, believe fiercely, it is a city fraught with emotion, soaked with naivety, forlorn with things not seen to fruition, yet built upon countless dreams come true.

After a little December rain

And around every corner I look, in every moment I live here, in every breath I take, I catch glimpses of what feels like the life I was always meant to have. I am completely and wholly at peace here, like for once in my life I’m not looking for a way to leave. There is a whole world that I’m meant to see, but I don’t drift here. My soul does not feel restless, my mind does not feel aimless. I feel this city in my blood and my bones, breathe it in my lungs, smell it in my hair. I am grounded here, in the dust and the desert, in the curvature of the horizon around the ocean, in the palm trees dotting the skyline and the sliver of a crescent moon hanging above the city.

This week, I drove north on the 101 and watched the mountains rise up and the skyscrapers disappear as I left Los Angeles, and I won’t be back for at least six months, although it will likely be longer. Though I am thrilled beyond words to leave the continent for a while to begin a new chapter in my life, to find another part of myself somewhere else, I can already feel a hole that looks a little like Los Angeles opening up in my heart. This feels like the place I’m meant to be, so truly and so deeply, if only for now, but now is enough.

For as much of my life as I can remember, I’ve had instances of deja vu, and it’s only intensified as I’ve gotten older; the feeling that I’ve been somewhere, seen something, experienced all of this before. And in no place I’ve ever visited or lived have I encountered this more than in Los Angeles. In the places I go, the people I meet, the decisions I make, there are little shifts in my soul that feel like things falling into place. There are these almost daily confirmations that I am on the right path, that I have done this all before in the best way possible, and that, finally, I am right where I’m supposed to be. Even though I’ll be stepping away from this city for a bit, I know that I’ll be able to return in a new year, and for perhaps the first time in my life, return to a place with open arms, with more hopes than reservations, and know that it is home.

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Looking toward Downtown from Boyle Heights, East LA

If you’re interested, please check out my Flickr for more of recent snapshots of life in the City of Angels. Also stay tuned for at least a couple more California posts before my blog becomes a little more Anglo!