Notes from Los Angeles.

Dear Los Angeles,

It’s been…weird. Despite all your oddities, I have to admit, I’ll miss you in some strange way. It may be a love-hate thing; when it’s good, it’s really good, relishing in the warm year-round sun and endless summer, but when it’s not I want to park a car sideways on the 110-101 interchange and abandon it just to watch the chaos that would ensue. You’ll never be New York, or San Francisco but still, you hold a place for me. 

It’s a late weekday night in Eagle Rock. The heat of early spring already requiring tee-shirts and shorts well into the evening. We’re waiting for our snow-cone from the Get Shaved Truck. A cop careens by, but given that this is LA, no one really notices. Until, the fourth one does, and all of a sudden there’s a road block maybe 50 feet from us. A helicopter appears from nowhere shining a search light into the neighborhood behind us. There’s a fairly large group of us. No one moves, despite the clear occurrence of a fugitive chase going on around the corner (hey, we already paid for our snow-cones!). A few daring observers wander up to the blockade to inquire. The driver of the food truck looks concerned, not for his safety, but because apparently he’s illegally parked. After getting our attention-a tough feat given the front row seats we had to a real life police chase to inform us he’d be pulling the truck up two feet, out of the red, you know-to avoid a ticket (because the police weren’t otherwise occupied?). We all have our priorities. He moves, delivers our snow-cones and we retreat to our cars to drive home. Just another night in LA.

This isn’t what I expected. To tell the truth, when I knew I was moving to LA (way back in November, 2009) I was expecting the worst. Having just returned from the trip of a lifetime to east Africa my ideas of Los Angeles were centered on extreme superficiality, grotesque over indulgence, and friendships based on networking.  And to some extent this is true. A lot of Angelenos are simply  here to make connections. Beverly Hills is a bit disgusting in its needless show of gaudy wealth.  The traffic really is as bad as you think it is. The number of name-dropping conversations I overheard was outstanding. But that certainly isn’t true about everyone who lives here. I’ve learned LA can be a fantastic place to live, you just need to find where you fit in. For me, that place turned out to be Silverlake, Pasadena, and anything east. The westside in general has proved to be mostly irritating, but of course necessary for great food and beach ventures.

Soup Dumplings

And the food! From the late night taco runs to dumplings in the San Gabriel valley, the ethnic food here is top-notch. We’ve eaten at the best restaurants in LA, and while the likes of Providence are certainly world-class, what I’ll miss most are the small hole in the wall, family run establishments. That, and Son of a Gun, Animal and Gjelina.  Those places that became our go-to’s, staples, and epicenters for memories associated with this city. Not to mention, dinning in LA has some of the best people watching I’ve ever experienced. From star spotting to the very people who give LA its distinct reputation.

Pizzeria Mozza.

Girl at bar, blond, lanky. Eats bone marrow appetizer, drinks wine. Good choice.

The pizza arrives. Girl pauses and exclaims how she couldn’t possibly eat this pizza. There is oil on it. The irony escapes her.

Mt. Baldy

Another misconception of the Los Angeles I fell victim to before moving here, is that the urban sprawl lacked in outdoor activities. That, is very, very wrong. Even within the city there’s decent hiking (if you don’t mind the company of little dogs and several other people). But outside the sprawl lies excellent hiking opportunities, especially in the San Gabriel Mountains. Check out Modern Hiker-a fantastic resource for all things hiking in LA. I’ve spent many weekends hobbling back to the car after yet again, a perhaps too ambitious hike through the mountains. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We have two weeks left in this city, and I’m admittedly a bit sad to leave. It’s been the place I came home to for the past two and a half years, and felt more like a home than Tacoma (college) ever did, despite having spent four years there. But I’m excited to move to a city more in line with my interests and general lifestyle; San Francisco! My seventh move since graduating college, and by no means the last. Just the end, and beginning of yet another adventure.

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