Last time I went to Los Angeles, I left thinking that it might be the place for me to live.
However, I’ve learned some lessons over the past year. Useful ones. And I try to put them into practice. Like, it’s always good to do a test run before making a big life change, if you can.
In this case, I could. So after getting back from the Automattic Grand Meetup in Whistler, I booked an Airbnb in Los Angeles for just over a month to try things out. I rented a car, and did my best to live like a local.
And you know what I realized? Los Angeles is not the place for me. While I was there, I missed home so much. I missed the New York/New Jersey culture. I missed my food, my family, my friends, my dance classes, my accent, my sarcasm, and the list goes on.
Most of all, I think, I missed public transportation. My god, I’d be so glad if I never have to drive a car again.
Nevertheless, I had a fun stay in Los Angeles and it was cool to be able to take the time to experiment. I had a chance to explore a lot of really cool places in a very iconic city with some great friends and coworkers and friend-workers.
Since going to Sedona, AZ, I realized that I actually enjoy hiking. I never really thought of myself as an outdoor person, but it’s hard to resist in warm, desert-like climates. Hiking in New Jersey never sounds very exciting to me, probably because I mostly associate it with trying to avoid tick bites. But when I’m in another place, especially the Southwest, the landscape is so different and so interesting.
While in LA, I had the chance to head up to Joshua Tree to see the surreal, awesome, knobby, moon-landscape-esque trees and rocks. It was a cool experience because I was literally the only person on the trail I did, so I had a lot of quiet time to think and explore. And, of course, I did the hike up to the Hollywood sign with my good friend who was equally shocked by the fact that there really are, indeed, people on horses as you make your way to the top. Could you imagine? I find hiking on my own two feet nerve-wracking enough most of the time, especially on a mountain.
The more homesick I got, the more I seemed to find things to do related to New York and New Jersey. Last year, I missed the Ramones exhibit at the Queens Museum, but it was on display at the Grammy’s Museum in LA so I made sure to go check it out. That’s also when I remembered that both Johnny and Dee Dee were buried in LA, so I went to pay homage to members of one of my favorite bands. All I can say is that when I go, I hope I have an epitaph as perfect as Dee Dee’s:
Ok… I gotta go now.
Since I was staying on the west side of the city, I tried to take advantage of going to the beach as much as possible, which turned out to be about once a weekend. I love Venice Beach, particularly the art and graffiti, of which LA had a lot. I also checked out MOCA, the contemporary art museum, as well as a really cool coffee shop downtown with some of my co-workers at The Container Yard.
One of my favorite days was going to Universal Studios. I was excited to check out the “other” version of Hogsmeade, but also to see a studio tour since, to me, that seems like The Thing to do in Los Angeles. Sometimes I forget how much I love movies and the film industry. I studied a bit of film history, love learning about the beginnings of the industry, and never laugh as much as I do when watching a silent comedy movie, like Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd. When I went to Cinecittà in Rome, I was overcome by that “movie magic” feeling where it seems as if anything you can imagine can be created. It’s such a wonderful feeling.
It was a long trip, but a good one and a useful one. I’m going back in a little more than a week for another work trip, but in the meantime I’m making up for my time away from the east coast by going even further into the Atlantic Ocean, a.k.a. I’m in Brazil for the next week or so and appreciating that I can actually see the sun rise and feel the wet ocean air and the loud city sounds of people laughing and yelling and talking. LA was quiet in that I was always in the car, but here, and at home in NJ, I prefer to be out in the world, exploring on foot, meeting people, and feeling that solid sense of rootedness.