Today is the 1 year anniversary of the day my wife and I arrived in Los Angeles to start our new lives as Californians. As seems to be the custom, in a city as transitory in the lives of many of her millions of residents, I believe this officially makes us ‘old-timers’. As such, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on what I’ve learned this year, from our new home.
Yes, it will be this nice out again tomorrow in Los Angeles
It took me a solid 90 days to get used to fact that the weather in Los Angeles was going to be somewhere between perfect and some nameless state beyond perfect every day. As a native New Englander the transition period was difficult. Every minute I could be outside, I tried to be…Because I was so very certain there was no way this weather would hold. But it does. Day in, and day out. Incredibly, the first time I saw rain on a business trip I felt the wonderful excitement of a child on Christmas morning before he knows Santa isn’t real.
Instead of weather, we talk about traffic
Before we moved here I remember thinking: “How bad can the traffic in Los Angeles be, anyways? I grew up in Boston…Our traffic is so bad a 14 Billion dollar civil construction project couldn’t solve it. Well, it’s worse.
I don’t really like to use hyperbole as much as I used to. What I will say is, in Los Angeles, you plan your activities around the traffic. And I now know what it feels like to leave the house with a goal and be unable to accomplish it, simply because I could not reach my destination.
You don’t live in Los Angeles, you live in a neighborhood
In my case, it’s the West Side…And I rarely travel east of the 405 unless I am in a plane. Hell, I try not to travel east of Lincoln Blvd if I can avoid it. If I could wave a magic wand, I think I would build a wall on Centinela Avenue and call it a day.
It’s kind of hard to wrap your head around the size of this place until you’ve been here. LA county covers an area which is roughly the size of Eastern Massachusetts from Worcester to Boston Harbor and from state to state on the North/South axis. And residents of the West Side have about as much in common with folks in the Valley as they have with people in another country.
Sunsets are epic, no matter what
Like the quality of the weather in Los Angeles, the sunsets are always epic. Every night, without fail, the sun slips into the Pacific with the most incredible show of beauty you’ve ever experienced. Night after glorious night. After a while you just get tired of it, which is a shame, but it is what it is. Fortunately, burritos never get old.
No matter how cool your car was back home, here it’s a joke
Unless you’re rolling in a Bugatti, or a Maserati, forget about pretending you have a cool car. Out here people give their housekeepers a Mercedes Benz to run errands and drive the kids to school. A BMW is about as cool in LA as a Toyota Corolla is in Boston. However, that’s not going to stop every jerk in a Honda Accord from trying to race you to the next red light, so get used to it. People drive loose and aggressive here. It’s a way of life.
This city is expensive, but that doesn’t mean it’s all classy
Living in LA works best if you aren’t trying to ‘make it’ as an artist, musician, or actor. I’m not saying these things aren’t important, I’m just saying LA isn’t really set up to support them anymore. Lots has been written on this subject so I’ll spare you the details…The bottom line is any neighborhood you would consider in LA is about as expensive as it gets.
But don’t think living in a fancy neighborhood is going to spare you from seeing or dealing with poverty…Because that’s not how it works here. A low-end two bedroom house in Venice Beach is going to run you around a million dollars. It also very likely comes complete with a family of mentally ill homeless people who use the crawl space under your porch for strange sex parties and other pagan rituals in the middle of the night.