Hey LA, What’s Up?

So here’s the thing. I badger the occasional slackin’ blogger to post to this site, and I myself have been slacking lately. There’s no one to badger me, but I had to out myself.

I spent pretty much the last three weeks out of LA–first in Death Valley, CA and then in the Seattle area. Two vastly different places with a lot in common: the ubiquity of the natural world; an inexhaustible supply of delicate details of flora and fauna and land around me; clean skies stocked with epic cloud formations; and neither of them are LA.

I grew up here, and have loved this city’s vagaries, inconsistencies and chaos since before I can remember. But I have to say, after a couple weeks back in LA, I miss the immediacy of the natural world I got in both Death Valley and Seattle. I feel a little lost. When I was in the vast empty spaces of the desert or cocooned in green in the Pacific Northwest, I felt like I’d found my right size in the world around me. Here in LA, I lose my bearings, get distracted, get dissatisfied with my insignificance or arrogant in my importance.

It seemed apropos that the jacarandas would have exploded into bloom while I was away & welcomed me back with a flurry of irrepressible violet. They’ve always marked melancholic episodes in my life: the boy with the floppy hair and southern drawl who never loved me back; the inescapable job that I only wanted to flee;  the years I spent living off vodka and pop-tarts. The jacarandas remind me of things I’ve lost, as if their impossible beauty stands in marked contrast to the various & sundry travails I’ve been experiencing. They don’t care if I’m down. And I don’t feel like LA does either. People complain to me often about how heartless LA is, and I defend its microcommunities and diversity and hidden gems earnestly, but sometimes I feel like I’m tired of a city that’s too vast to be personal, too ephemeral to be substantive. It seems to happen more and more lately.

I guess one of the things about chronicling a town as weird as LA is remembering to include the gray areas, the more liminal aspects of the city, and not just stick to relentless boosterism. Hence this post. I’m worried I’m falling out of love with LA.

7 Replies to “Hey LA, What’s Up?”

  1. Lucinda- As with all great loves, it’s easy to take for granted all the wonderful things your beloved embodies! But like everything there is an upside and a downside to living in one of the most complicated, exciting cities in the world.

    I completely relate to how out of touch with nature you can get while living in LA… I have made it a goal to spend one day each week in deep nature. Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy with all the canyons, the beach and the easy access to being pretty much alone on a trail in 30 minutes or less. Anyway, I feel your pain… but have also lived in other places and boy… did I miss this amazing city and it’s crazy inhabitants!

  2. I went to Seattle last April and had a great time. I’m considering moving there because I can’t find work here.

    But then I think about the things I would miss out on. There’s a;ways a good show to go to in LA. I’d be bored to death in Seattle.

    I’m not sure I could put up with the cold and rain either.

  3. It’s the double edged sword of living in a huge city. They tend to be brutal on the ground, and magnificent in the abstract. Smaller cities are more livable, but have less to offer and eventually become dull for lack of cultural abundance. I agree with tammara, from LA you can access so many amazing places. Think of it as your home base, and get out often to nature.

  4. Jacarandas, like so much we hold beautifully iconic here in the city, are imported. Set dressing for an epic motion picture in which we are transients in a transplanted scape, irrigated by elsewhere’s water, developed by the makers of make believe and designed for us to travel it removed and isolated in climate-controlled cabins within rolling steel boxes. On top of that every now and then its true faults are revealed, falling the walls and spinning the power lines like jump ropes as it tries to shrug us off. It is no wonder our ties to this place can be so tenuous and become so disconnected.

    For me, the on-offs of one’s relationship with Los Angeles is part of its overall charm. There are peaks and valleys in everything none more figurative than L.A. and none more literal than Death Valley where five miles as the vulture flies one can go from Badwater’s lowest point in the western hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level, to the 11,049-foot Telescope Peak. Whether standing between love and hate of this sprawled city or in between those two desert landmarks I can marvel at both extremes.

  5. I have always loved your writings. You are so talented. Not meaning to be stalkerish. I tried to private e-mail you on lj, just wondering how you are doing.

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