I went to college in New York, Manhattan to be specific, and immediately fell in love with it. It’s a wonderful, infuriating city, that is almost impossible to live in. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is easy. Not monetarily, it’s still expensive. But it’s filled with coffee shops, like the one I am in now, that basically command you to relax and enjoy your day. The street corners are stocked with carts selling fresh fruit, plentiful, and delicious, for five dollars. Sunshine fills most days, including this March afternoon, already 80 degrees. I know that five years ago, I would hate this. I was completely devoted to New York, the suffering, the madness. My legs were made to pound the pavement, the city was my personal playground. Wandering half drunk down 1st avenue at midnight, watching my favorite musicians at The Bitter End in the East Village. Strolling through the Theatre District like I owned it, grabbing cheap tickets hours before a show.
But then my anxiety ridden body couldn’t take it anymore. I would have panic attacks everywhere, while people would pass by, pretending not to see me. There’s a rule in New York if you’ve lived there long enough. If you see someone crying, in pain, on the street, you let them be. Unless you are very rich, you do not have a huge space in which to live. So the streets, the subways, they are also your real estate. So as a fellow New Yorker, you gave them the only privacy you could. Walking by without saying a word. So I know people thought they were being kind, but now I realize I was crying out for help in a city that would never hear me. So one day, I snapped. I was done, with that stupid city, and all it’s problems. I had given myself over to it time and time again, and my heart was broken. Like a bad boyfriend, I had enough of it’s bullshit. Within a week I was gone, barely saying goodbye but not really caring. I had moved home, upstate, and had dreams of Los Angeles.
I had visited California twice before moving there. Once, San Francisco, once, Los Angeles. I liked San Francisco more. It was a city like New York, compact, and filled with culture. But I knew Los Angeles was where I needed to be. I moved a little over a year later. My mom and I packed as much as we could in suitcases, and bought the rest once we arrived. My first apartment was in Studio City, and I loved it. The apartment, and the neighborhood. Quiet, but still young. Walkable, not in the way New York was, but it worked. Now I live in Burbank, close by. Los Angeles might be the strangest city I’ve lived in, but I love it here. I love the easy mornings I have in my studio apartment, greeted by sunshine, while I slowly sip my coffee. I love walking out of my apartment in a sundress in February, and having a million different options open to me. I’ve started running, and going for long walks when it’s too hot to run. I don’t feel cramped, claustrophobic. It has not completely cured my anxiety, but it has helped it.
I love the ugliness, and the beauty of the city. It is a walking contradiction. Strip mall, after strip mall, and ugly apartment buildings. Bright flowers growing around buildings, streets filled with palm trees, and young children playing, happy. But really, the thing I fell in love with when I moved here, is myself. Los Angeles has given me a quiet confidence. Like New York, it has challenged me every step of the way. It has not been easy, and it’s knocked me on my ass quite a few times. But I am no longer burying my head in the sand. I am accepting my tests and tribulations, head strong, and sturdy.