Having grown up in LA, I formally pretend to hate it. Isn’t that what everyone feigns about their hometown? Maybe some really do, if they grew up in the middle of nowhere, USA.
But when I am asked that tired question, “Where are you from?” I am never embarrassed to admit that I hail from Los Angeles. In fact, there may be inklings of pride. Though I moved far away, and I have no plans of officially returning, when I am there, something feels like home. Maybe it’s driving everywhere. Maybe I can predict people’s attitudes. Maybe it’s the pretty sunsets.
Why I don’t like LA: the people can be fake, inside and out. The myths are true; a lot of people have had plastic surgery, and most people prefer spray tans to the sun, despite its abundance. People live in flip-flops and never feel the need to get dressed up. There is no cohesive sense of city life, and the traffic is a nightmare. And everyone wants to be famous. So many people will live and die in LA with the unrequited hopes of becoming a star.
But, overall, it wasn’t a bad place to grow up. When my friends and I would ditch high school, we would just walk to the beach. Sometimes I miss the laid back attitude of la-la land and the beautiful coastline. And the sunsets; a guaranteed nightly show of lights in an array of unnatural colors, free for viewing. I miss seeing the sky.
So the smog is probably killing everyone, if an earthquake doesn’t first, but I’d choose a childhood in California over New Jersey any day.
A poem by Emily Dickinson closes nicely:
An ignorance a Sunset
Confer upon the Eye --
Of Territory -- Color --
Circumference -- Decay --
Its Amber Revelation
Exhilirate -- Debase --
Of Our inferior face --
And when the solemn features
Confirm -- in Victory --
We start -- as if detected
In Immortality --
Another man-made, beautiful arrangement of light at the LACMA.