“Where are you from?”
If you are walking the streets of some parts of Los Angeles your response to this question might be to run as fast as you can away from the person doing the asking. But I was vacationing in Maine, recently, and being a middle-aged woman amongst mostly other middle-aged people, I thought it was OK to answer even though my response is usually more informative than required.
“I live in Los Angeles, but I was born in New York and raised in Maryland,” I have been replying.
And there is, at least for me, an important reason for that. I didn’t want people to think I was a native Californian, or even more importantly someone who calls LA home.
We moved here in 1979 and I never thought it would be for the rest of life. But I am 99% sure it will be.
This realization bothered me for a very long time. I thought of myself as one who had an east coast sensibility. And to be blunt there are a lot of things about this city that I don’t like. Things that would allow other people to make assumptions about me given my residence status.
Joke (by Neil Simon): When it is 20 degrees and snowing in New York, it is 78 degrees in Los Angeles.
When it is 90 degrees with 80% humidity in New York, it is 78 degrees in Los Angeles.
There are 2 million interesting people in New York and there are 78 in Los Angeles.
Pretty funny if you are an east coast snob, don’t you think? So, I guess that makes me an east coast snob. But not anymore.
“ What’s changed?” you might be asking yourself.
The answer is “Me.”
I needed to give up my dream of living on the east coast. This resulted in grief. And grieve I did. Had my own personal pity party.
The death of a dream, I have come to find out, is a pretty stressful thing. Everyone knows (because a there are a lot of therapists here) that losses involve going through stages. That means first came the anger (which came to a head during last month’s long and intense heat wave causing me to have a “meltdown).
Then came the acceptance. (I guess I am here for duration).
Finally, there is the end. Of the dream, that is.
I am now a born again Los Angeleno. Maybe I should start handing out pamphlets on Hollywood Blvd or LAX. Not likely, but I tell you this: beginning today, I will work out, consider a little plastic surgery, talk about the traffic and weather or lack thereof, and avoid eating. I will also root for the Dodgers and hopefully make a meaningful contribution to the effort of making Los Angeles a better place to live.
As Stephen Stills sings, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”
OR, “You can’t always get what you want. And sometimes, you get what you need,” The Rolling Stones,