Dear Los Angeles,
I should have written this months ago, but I think the fact that it took me this long says something about how strongly I felt about you and how compelled I was to reflect. As in, I feel strongly that you—sprawling, suffocating, and shallowly pleasing mostly because of Instagram-able gentrification—are not the right place for me. Though I have found a few gems scattered across the city?region?blob?, they are not nearly sufficient to counteract the whole unsavory experience of being in LA.
This past summer, I chose to live in Echo Park because I thought it would give me a more “LA” LA experience, at least more LA than staying in Westwood and being trapped in a college bubble. For two months, I lived in a house near Echo Park Lake owned by a retired professional skateboarder turned music video director, co-existing with a cannabis trimmer and an aspiring actress/writer/odd-job worker who was on an “extended vacation” from life in NYC. For two months, I was vegan because of the house rules, trying to be comfortable in a space that never felt like home, isolated from the people who I wanted to see. Every morning, I felt the eyes of row after row of car-bound commuters on me as I crossed the street to take the bus to work (because surprise surprise I don’t know how to drive). In asking myself what the fuck did I even do in my free time I’ve come to remember that much of it was spent trying to get somewhere, rationalizing my wasted time in-transit with a podcast or an e-book that would get me carsick. If this was indeed the LA experience for someone like me, I could not wait to get out of it.
I learned that summer about the things I don’t want. I don’t want to live in a city whose infrastructure does not support my lifestyle and well-being. I don’t want to work an inconsequential job that doesn’t align with my values. Is it too direct if I say I don’t want to live in LA? Disappointingly, that’s my reality for the next year and a half, but I’ll keep trying to find some joy around town even though it’s safe to say that, after two years of trying, Los Angeles will never grow on me.