Two years and about two weeks ago puts us on or about July 16th, 2006. And I remember quite well where I was. I was in Aspers, staying with Josh and Jen. In fact, I think that the 16th is the day I introduced myself to a little piece of technology called the iPod (I was treating myself for lugging the CD-based MP3 player around Scotland!). I was preparing for something that I suppose most people would consider frightening, but I was beside myself with excitement — I was moving to Los Angeles!
I am, of course, glad I did — Darren is just the most wonderful man, and I am such a blessed woman that I have him in my life. My life radically changed, for the better, on July 18th. And I knew it would. I will say that knowing the date of your first kiss with someone can be surreal.
Anyway, this blog isn’t being written to rant about how much I love my husband. All ya’ll know that anyway (you blessed five, you!). This blog, written on encouragement from Lou Ann, is supposed to be about my experience of living in Los Angeles.
Back to my rambling. Two years, three months, and two weeks ago, I had already reduced all of my personal belongings to two suitcases. So, two years and two weeks ago, all I had to do was get them shut again, and get myself to the plane.
My life up until that point had been absolutely, scatterbrained hectic. So, I was in a lull — vacationing in Aspers before moving, spending much needed time with my family and getting myself reoriented to US time (and US heat. It was something like 55 degrees difference in the temperature between what I experienced in Scotland and what I found waiting for me in Philadelphia. It would be even worse when I got Los Angeles, a fact I fully knew (I was talking to Darren daily, and he was giving me updates on the horrid heat wave going on here, so I kind of knew to expect, as much as you can. I can liken it to getting my tongue pierced — I knew what to expect, it didn’t mean I was particularly . . . you know, ready).
And I made it here, and I love it here. A large part of my love for Los Angeles is that it’s been where I’ve been able to spend the happiest two years of my life. As much as I disdain Pittsburgh for memories that are not its fault, I love Los Angeles for memories that are not in its control! It’s not where you are that determines how rich your life is, but who you are with. And I’ve been priviledged to have been taught that lesson. Many of my friends and loved ones have picked a place to sequester themselves while taking stock, learning what they want out of life, or licking wounds. Los Angeles is the place I came to after the wounds had healed.
Lou Ann asked me specifically what it was like to live here for two years, and I will attempt to somewhat answer that question, but it’s early morning here, and I’m rambling already, so we’ll see what ends up dropping out of me. Like I said, I could write books on how much I love Darren and how much he means to me, and how my life has improved since I have him, but this blog is about “what’s it like to live in Los Angeles,” and I’ve rambled way past that already, so let me just get to it.
First and foremost is the weather. Yes, my God, is it beautiful here. Just beautiful. I say often that Los Angeles doesn’t have weather, it has climate. It’s always just about the right temperature (in the shade. That’s important. IN THE SHADE), and, well, it’s Southern California. It’s revered for its beautiful skies and beaches.
About those beaches — they are only heavily populated in the movies and on TV series. Sure, people are at the beach, but not as many as you’d probably think. And people are at the beach because no matter where you are in Los Angeles people are there. And I often mean a lotta people. They are everywhere here. And of course they are. Los Angeles is the second largest city in the US. It almost covers 500 square miles, and is home to around 3.8 million people. So yeah, I had to get used to the massive amount of people everywhere. Because it’s not just who lives here, it’s the huge influx of tourists ALL THE TIME.
And of course tourists come here all the time — even in the winter, our lows barely dip into the 40’s. It’s super warm here. So, speaking to that, let me explain Los Angeles seasons:
Spring (January to March)
Summer (April to July)
Fire (August to October)
Fall (November, December)
That’s right. There’s no winter, and there’s a fire season here. That’s what two years in Los Angeles gave me — exposure to fire season. Last year, we saw this fire tear up Griffith Park:
And later in the year, all of California was ablaze. There wasn’t a single county in the entirety of Southern California that didn’t have some massive wildfire to contend with, all at once. This is what it looked like from space:
So yeeeah, fire is definitely something you have to contend with here. It’s way one that California can kill you differently from other places. During the fires, the sky would often turn these strange, otherworldly colors from all the smoke. But, even that wasn’t hard to get used to, because there’s so much smog here that are sunsets are spectacular shows of colors, ranging from deep purples to neon oranges and sometimes you can even catch some green.
So, basically it’s sunny here all the time and it’s oppressively hot in the late summer, the season of fire. You get used to it.
And, there are people everywhere. You kind of get used to that, too, especially since you can have some pretty surreal experiences. One time, early in my days here, I saw my first god’s honest, big purple feather and crocodile boots pimp, complete with beat my bitches walking stick. And what did I think? “Only in Los Angeles.” And I loved it. If you aren’t ready to do that, then Los Angeles isn’t for you.
Which brings me to another point — crime. Crime here is actually just like crime anywhere else. If you go someplace you shouldn’t be and do something stupid, you are probably going to get hurt. Crime has been in a pretty steady decline, and according to that Wikipedia article on LA and other sources, violent crimes been declining. There have been a couple of times while riding the bus I sincerely feared for myself, but then . . . nothing happened. It’s really not all that scary of a place. People here are FRIENDLY. I mean that. They either:
1. Aren’t from here (a vast portion of the Los Angeles population moved here from somewhere else. It’s a place you choose to live).
2. Have lived here their entire lives.
3. Are a tourist and need your help.
This isn’t New York, folks. If you ask for directions, you’re sure to get them. And, as I can attest to, if you are at a train station and need guidance, there’s always someone willing to help.
Which brings me to one of the big parts of my experience in Los Angeles: Public Transportation.
A side note: Public transportation here, and in Orange County, is amazing. You can get anywhere, given enough time. You can easily get from our place in North Hollywood to Anaheim (Disney) with one train transfer. If you visit, I highly recommend you ditch the car, and use the transit.
My main feelings about public transportation? It’s the surreality in my day. I’m either on the phone, or listening to music, because before I was doing any of those things, it was a constant assault. Sometimes, even literally. I’ve seen someone physically kicked off the bus, I’ve had someone kicked off the bus, I’ve had someone feel me up on the bus . . . constant. But then I changed buses and it’s much more calm now 😉 Now, I’m mainly on Metro Rapid buses or using the train, both of which are much more geared to commuters.
I suppose this brings me to the scenery, and in LA, that is really hard to beat. Even theatres are interesting, as I found this sign on Hollywood Boulevard to sometimes be in freaky sync with what I was thinking:
If you’re looking for nature, the city itself isn’t where you really want to be, it’s not that ‘scenic’ perse, unless architecture is your thing, in which case we can kick some butt.
We DO have a lot of palm trees,
and those kick ass because they bear a strong resemblance to truffula trees:
The Lorax, however, would hate it here, because the only stars we have are the famous kind. I think we can see all of 12 stars on any given LA evening. Again, the smog.
It’s not all smoggy fun and games, as I found out when I was introduced to way two California can kill you, which is desert bugs. Specifically, the black widow spider. I was bit several times one morning, and let me tell you — that tiny bit of venom had me curled in a ball for two hours, and left my leg aching for a few days. BAD ASS, I tell you.
Another common creature found in California is the adorable chihuahua.
And they are adorable. You can find them in purses, or just wandering around the end of a leash. People here love their dogs. Darren and I are currently looking into getting one. Beloved for their small size, and thus their ability to fit into small apartments (unless you are a millionaire, you are renting your space in LA, I guarantee) quite happily, they are all over the place here. You’ll even see them in stores, since people are allowed to have support pets — you know, emotional support. The strangest iteration I’ve seen of this custom was a woman in Big Lots holding her bunny. Seriously. And I’m not talking teeny tiny bunny, I’m talking two armfuls of rabbit bunny.
So now, I suppose, I am at the closing of two years of experience in LA, and I’ll end with the experience from yesterday. Weighing in as the third way that Los Angeles can kill you:
Anyone with an education knows that one day, California will no longer be with us. Why? Because are poised on the very edge of disaster, right near the Pacific Ring of Fire:
And right along the San Andreas Fault
This means we have an awful lot of seismic activity going on. And, yesterday, I got to feel, for the first, definitive time, what exactly an earthquake is.
If you’re from Pittsburgh and you’ve been to the Science Center, you’ve had the opportunity to visit the Earthquake Cafe’ – and that’s about what it’s like. Except you aren’t choosing how strong, and you have no idea when it’s going to hit, and all of a sudden, everything starts to shake. It reminded me of my first apartment in Pittsburgh, so dismally close to the train that it would rattle our walls every time it passed — only these buggers don’t have a schedule.
California has been devastated by Earthquakes before, most notably the Northridge Earthquake that caused shitloads of damage and killed a few people to boot. Yesterday’s was nothing, comparatively, but in those first moments, when your phone isn’t working and you just want to know if your loved ones are ok, it’s just as tense.
California has been enchanting, fun, and scary. I don’t regret coming here, I love living here. And our medication here rocks. Is it for everyone? No, of course not. But it works for me.