LA: It’s not you, it’s me
Dear Los Angeles,
Pondering endings always gets me to thinking about the beginning. It usually starts with the ever inevitable: “Where did we go wrong?
But what we had was different. There was a deadline involved: 3 months. So instead, I’ve skipped the self-indulgent spite and headed straight for reminiscence.
Don’t take this personally, but it’s always been easier for me to say goodbye than to say hello. After moving 8 times in 18 years, I’ve mastered the art of the first impression, learned to revel in the thrill of jumping in, head over heels into the chaotic and exhilarating New.
Your first impression was admittedly one of the worst ever. You were not what I had expected. Everyone chided me, saying that I was lucky to be with you for the summer, that you were one of the best in The World! and that others would love to meet you in the way that I would.
But then we did meet, and my first impression of you can be summed up in naught more than a raised eyebrow and a WTF as I waited in traffic for literally three hours for you and your kind to just hurry the fuck up and drive for godssake. You were Regina George, and I decided to hate everything about you on principle.
But I admit that I was being unfair to you at the time, held you to standards that should not have existed in the first place. I’ve always tried to meet others at the middle, give them a blank slate for their own sake, but you met me at a very strange time in my life. Let’s rewind the clock for a little:
New York was the first time I’d ever been in love. Before meeting this one, I had never before felt the high of finally belonging, of feeling at home and a part of something that made me feel so simultaneously small and alive and electrified. When I left New York for you, I felt the ache of separation, wrapped in suspicion that my life was making a horrid dive for the boring.
Then there was Europe. While not the most permanent of flings, it was that gorgeous thing that you can brag about years afterward. At some point you’ll question whether it even happened, but there are scars to prove that no, it was not a dream.
So naturally, there was a precedent. And I’m sorry about that.
You are quite wonderful, you know. Our relationship did a 180 that one night we got midnight tacos at El Taurino’s. It’d been a long night of bartending, but you were awake. No, you were more than awake. You were loud and full of screaming drunkards and I just stood there shocked, then smiling.
We became romantically involved at the Getty, as I stared into the misty skyline. I swooned at LACMA. Hollywood Bowl? Forget it. You were surprisingly cultured, given your appearance of being obnoxiously tan and more than a tad shallow.
At some point, I realized that I was beginning to defend you against your critics. When with San Francisco for Outside Lands, I argued that one only had to live with you in order to understand you.
Then there was Venice Beach. I saw echoes of New York in you in that place, and was reminded of Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”. Katie, the mom, is helping her daughter get over her own first love:
“I know that’s what people say– you’ll get over it. I’d say it, too. But I know it’s not true. Oh, you’ll be happy again, never fear. But you won’t forget. Every time you fall in love it will be because something in the [first] reminds you of [the new].”
Basically, all I’m saying is that we were doomed from the beginning. Sorry.
I can imagine us together someday, maybe in the future when NPR and long drives and suburbia take on a whole new meaning in my world. But not now. Today, I am with New York, and we are wonderfully, selfishly and impulsively moonstruck. Maybe someday we’ll be together. Don’t wait for me (I know you won’t). Until then, goodbye.
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