I’m aware that I frequently complain about where I live, when many would kill to live in Southern California. The sunshine alone is reason to want to carve out a space here; 284 days of sun and a mere 26 days of precipitation is a hard statistic to beat anywhere else. There is also the proximity to the beach, which I have always taken for granted because I’ve never known differently. Additionally, the ethnic diversity makes for a pretty fabulous mix of restaurants. We can virtually eat in a different country every night of the month, if we so desired. 

Lately, I have been enjoying the beautifully temperate weather before it reverts back to summertime scorchers of 90+ degrees. With every breath I inhale fresh jasmine, sweet peas, lavender – the scent heady as I walk down the evening streets. Once summer revs into full gear, the lovely springtime fragrance will burn off and all anyone will be able to think about is popsicles, cold showers or a dip in the ocean.

However, these benefits come at a price, as many will be quick to point out. Disgusting suburban sprawl has always topped my list of grievances against the area. One can drive for hours on congested highways past dirty tract houses and ugly McMansions without spotting something with any visually redeeming characteristics.

Also, the culture in the L.A. area exudes a quality I couldn’t put my finger on until I began traveling. This quality always made me feel like I wasn’t quite human because I didn’t care about the same things as everyone else; namely, money, fame, gossip and eternal youth and beauty. Not everyone holds these values – they just seem to be principles most people absorb in the air, or water, or vapor from the general proximity to Hollywood. That is how a region’s culture operates.

When I started to see more of the world, however, I finally realized what this characteristic was: shallowness. I hated being associated with such a quality, and have been trying to escape – unsuccessfully – to a place of more substance for years.

Despite feeling like a perpetual outsider in my own hometown, I try to remind myself how lucky I am not to ever shovel snow, or tolerate months of humidity, or deal with Vitamin D deficiency. I can shop organic if I want to and eat Vietnamese pho one day and have a delicious Greek salad the next. I can read on the beach if I have the time and I can always find a decent cup of coffee. My specific city is a bit more hippy-ish than most in the south land, which I love. This particular suburb banned plastic bags in 2012, there are more independent yoga and dance studios than you can shake a stick at, and a thriving small business community keeps the cultural arts alive in my neighborhood.

I am lucky. Even with my cynicism and constant escape attempts, I have to remind myself to just relax and enjoy the good things the city offers, especially since I am stuck here for the time being. There are a million places I would hate to live – at least this place doesn’t require me to keep my opinions to myself.


Misfit in L.A. — 21 Comments

  1. I know how you feel…. so often (especially after traveling abroad) I find myself comparing my little Southern town to the cosmopolitan cities in Europe. But I have come to love Savannah for what it is, and try to enjoy every moment I am here because it is so charming in its own right. There will always be a lovelier city, but also an uglier one, out there!
    Beduwen recently posted…How to Create a New HabitMy Profile

  2. no offense but GOOOOOODDDDDDDDDDD I hated living in LA. Well it was orange county. I would have never thought I was a frustrated farm girl…but I am.

  3. My sister grew up in CT and moved to LA. She could only stand it a few years before the shallowness got to her. But she still does miss the sun and organic food. I can imagine that would be hard to give up!

  4. I know what you mean. I went to acting school in Pasadena and ended up transferring to the New York branch because as much as I loved the weather, the beach, the beauty of So Cal, the palm trees…that quality you mention bugged me. But I’ll tell you – I enjoyed being there. I drove to a different beach each day and the restaurants were fantastic.
    Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom recently posted…100 Word Song: Feeling GoodMy Profile

  5. It’s so horrible here! And I totally agree with you that Orange County is way worse! For me, I find it’s hard to be the square peg in a round hole because the more I’m surrounded by it, the more inadequate it makes me feel. But then I take a look at people like you, Greg, and my family and remember that I’m not alone, and we’re great just the way we are!
    Ericamos recently posted…Cold ShowersMy Profile

  6. My solution to the superficiality problem: don’t hang out with them. They live *everywhere* anyway. This little suburb I live in in Auckland is full of ’em (mostly Londoners.) And this will probably shock you to pieces: I lived in Riverside for 15 years and I absolutely love it. I love how much Orange County gripes about the Inland Empire, because that *must* demonstrate that it’s a place with merit.
    Brian Sorrell recently posted…The NotebookMy Profile

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