Friday, August 20, 2010

Fictionless Friday: Anthem for Los Angeles

I recently told a new acquaintance that I’ve lived in LA for almost 8 years, and he instantly broke down that time down into phases – honeymoon, hating, and the final, inevitable acceptance. In reality, I had no such phases. The phases of my time in LA have more to do with the jobs I’ve had and the friendships I’ve made. The city itself had nothing to do with anything.

But personifying Los Angeles and then blaming it for problems seems to be popular sport. It’s an easy target, I suppose. Hating LA while living here has been around for decades. People talk about living in LA like it’s a force of nature. A beast to be tamed. Newcomers have an adverse reaction to it like it’s a virus or unwanted party guest. They gripe, complain, hate it violently or loathe it quietly with lofty disdain.

Because this is no ordinary city. This is the City of Angels. A city where dreams are pursued with fervent passion. Where movie stars appear on the big screen as well as the Starbucks next to your apartment. Where trends are made and even your housekeeper wears Juicy Couture. Where possibility hangs in every shopping center – I could get discovered! It’s a city of dreamers.

I once met a pretty blonde wannabe actress who told me that to get her career started, she was going to the Bar at The Standard every night because “It’s the best way to be seen.” Now I try to look presentable every time I leave my apartment, but the idea of going to a swanky, overpriced bar just to put myself on display is ridiculous. I’d rather read a book.

But like attracts like, and there’s plenty of people like this actress in LA, sharing dumb secrets with each other, learning how to be chic and trendy, dreaming big dreams. They live in their version of LA. And when that version fails to fulfill its promise, it’s the city’s fault.

I, for one, let LA off the hook. It’s just a place. A generally sunny place with an ocean view and incredible Mexican food. The people who live here make it what it is. People created the crowding, the homeless, the economy, the smog.

So I keep my eye on myself. What am I contributing to society? Who am I supporting by spending my money? What’s important to my quality of living? And so far, my perspective has worked for me. I’ve had my ups and downs in my almost 8 years of living here, but they’ve been mine. And LA, for its part, has been a great place to live.

Here’s to the next 8 years in the City of Angels.

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