2012 marks my 13th year in Los Angeles, which is pretty much the longest I’ve lived anywhere, save the first 14 years of my life spent in Anchorage, Alaska. And since I was in the 9th grade when I left, does it really count?
I moved to L.A. in 1999 – fresh out of high school in Olympia, WA – to attend the University of Southern California. I still remember USC move-in week, and how every store, restaurant and place of business had bars on the windows, the jarring nightly sirens from the neighborhood fire station, and my Mom’s worried face when she asked, ‘are you sure you want to go to school here?’
Having spent my entire life in small towns, I was sure, and I embraced the excitement of my new home. A lot has changed since those wide-eyed days of freshman year. I’ve lived all over this fair and sprawling city, from rundown college apartments in the ‘University Park’ neighborhood adjacent to USC’s campus, to the (in my opinion), eerily Big Brother-esque gated community of Park La Brea, to a tiny guest house/bungalow in Culver City, to the artist district (read: cheap rent) in North Hollywood.
I have navigated mazes of freeways and get a little depressed when I think of all the hours of my life lost stuck in gridlock cursing other drivers on the 405. I’ve taken embarrassingly bad acting gigs, thinking they’d be my ‘break,’ and worked as a verbally abused, unpaid intern in the bowels of the entertainment biz. (For you creative types, I’d recommend the former. It builds character. The latter? Not unless you’re a masochist.)
And somewhere along the way, I became what all my family in the Pacific Northwest warned me not to: an Angeleno. Not the siliconed, Botoxed, peroxided, spray tanned version (though I will confess to whitening my teeth and a gym addiction), but someone that has, in spite of myself, made a home in this crazy place and grown to love it (eccentricities and all), more than I ever thought I could.
But before you start thinking this is some sappy love letter to the City of Angels, rest assured, I am just as aware of this city’s shortcomings as it’s plusses. L.A. is, in fact, a very weird place, and it only takes a little time (read: a day) visiting friends and family outside of the L.A. bubble to remember that Angelenos aren’t like everyone else. In future blog posts, I’ll attempt to show you what I mean by pointing out specific examples of ways that Angelenos are, well, different. But just to give you a little taste, below is a (fabulous) car spotted in the parking lot of my gym, the L.A. Fitness in Universal City. You’ll be hearing more about this place in future blogs too, as this ginormous, 2-story, Hollywood Hills adjacent fitness center is ground zero for ‘only in L.A.’ weirdness.
Until next time, friends.