My Los Angeles.
Originally posted July 30, 2017 on the previous Little Mountains Blog website.
I’ve been putting this one off.
How do I write about a city that’s been written about a thousand times over? What could I possibly say that isn’t cliché and overdone?
I could say that my Los Angeles is traffic and people and sunshine. I could say that my Los Angeles is culture and music and adventures. I could say that my Los Angeles is exciting and terrifying and like no other city I’ve ever experienced.
I could say all of that. But it’s all been said before, time and time again.
I could also cut the bullshit and say that my Los Angeles is not mine at all.
I lived in Los Angeles for the past five years, up until this April. The first four of those years I spent going to college, which was a unique experience in and of itself. I loved my school and I am grateful for the chances I had to learn and grow in that community. But the last year, the year I spent working and really living in LA, is what I’ve been rolling over and over in my head since I returned to my hometown of Sacramento.
To say it went as expected is just entirely untrue. I suppose I’m not exactly sure what I expected, but I certainly didn’t expect my anxiety to shoot through the roof and to feel as much like I was doing nothing but spinning my wheels in both my professional and personal life as I did. Looking back, I picture myself treading water for the past year. I wasn’t drowning, no, but I wasn’t moving forward. And I was exhausted.
I’m still trying to make sense of the last year of my life, which is probably why this post has been so hard for me to write. But I write to work out my thoughts, so if you’re reading this, consider yourself just along for the ride on this one.
I lived in Los Angeles for five years and it never felt like home. It never felt like I was going to really know the city, like I’d feel comfortable there. It never felt like a place where I could be the best version of myself, a version of myself I might honestly be at peace with. I had good times and even great times, and I made memories I will certainly cherish forever. But I always had a square-peg-round-hole feeling I couldn’t shake.
Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. But maybe I knew it was never meant to be.
Last month I went back for the first time after moving. I’d only been gone a few months but that was enough to already feel like a different person. I was extremely apprehensive about how it would feel returning to a city I’d so badly wanted out of by the end.
And the strangest thing happened. I got there, and it felt familiar. This crazy city that I couldn’t wrap my mind around for five years now felt like an old worn-out T-shirt. I didn’t suddenly feel like I belonged, but I felt an understanding that I hadn’t experienced before.
I’ve been thinking about that trip for awhile now, and I’ve realized that returning to LA after leaving felt like getting closure. It felt like getting coffee with a long-time ex. It felt like remembering the light you once saw in his eyes and feeling genuinely happy for him that now, someone else is holding him at night. It felt like looking back on a closed door and finally seeing all of the other doors that were opening while you were blinded by tunnel vision. (I guess I didn’t get through this post without a few clichés after all).
I don’t think Los Angeles is a horrible place. I think it’s a place where a lot of people really do thrive. I think it’s brimming with opportunity. I think a lot of people feel found in LA; feel like they truly belong. Just not me.
I don’t remember the first time I said “Los Angeles is not my place” out loud, but I think I’ve said it a million times since. Right now, that’s the most sense I can make of it. My Los Angeles is simply not mine at all.
So after all of it, all I know is that Los Angeles is not my place. And I’m at peace with that.