I have no intention of planting my roots just yet and I have seriously been considering leaving LA but she makes it so hard for me to leave her.
Most of us know all too well that it’s not all glitz and glamour in a big city. Beneath all that seduction and sparkle is a dark heavy cloud of confusion and flurry that can be taxing to anyone, no matter how much they love their city.
This cloud is even darker and heavier in a city like Los Angeles where everyone, fueled by ambition and a strong sense of purpose, can’t seem to stop and take a breath; where everyone is always seemingly in a battle for something. So I make it a point to drift in the moments and also get myself out at least every once a month, to stretch my weary legs and reboot my overheated system.
And so far, those have been enough for me. At least until now.
As you are reading this, my boyfriend and I would have already made our way to Seattle for a short holiday. We would have already made that trip by car, driving fast up the 5 from Los Angeles to the Oregon border then leisurely from there to the Emerald City along the beautiful coast of Oregon. We would have already explored the northern half of that coast and I, predictably, would have already consumed half of my film stock.
It’s a trip we had been planning for and talking about excitedly for months now. And predictably, all that planning and excitement unfortunately had me thinking about – and seriously considering – leaving LA. For good.
Ever since I was young, I’ve been a wanderer. And it’s always been my dream to someday explore every single inch of this world, never stopping too long to establish a stable life but always stopping long enough to meet people and to learn cultures, languages, lifestyles that are foreign to my own, to collect as much life experiences as I could.
But lately, it’s become difficult for me to imagine living somewhere other than here. Yes, in this tan-and-Hollywood-addled city. Whenever I try to, I panic and my mind starts racing through all the things I’ll miss about it. Not because it’s become my comfort zone but because it’s made and molded me into the person I am now, because it’s given me my courage and my voice.
Because of many other things – the quiet and steady buzz of heavy traffic even at midnight, which when you’re used to can be very comforting; the smell of bacon-wrapped hotdogs and tacos that envelop you when you leave the bars at 2 in the morning; and, even the constant humdrum of the sprawl.
There are only so many places in this world where you can go from the beach to the green mountains to the dry desert in a few hours; where the hills could turn from golden one day to Tuscany green the next like magic; where the sky is always blue and the weather is always perfect (well, at least almost always); and where going to the beach is not just a thing you do on the weekends or the holidays, it’s a way of life.
It’s a city where there’s a fascinating harmonious intermingling of subcultures and countercultures, where anybody can be whoever or whatever they want to be, and where being different and/or being odd is celebrated, not shunned. Also, it’s a city where everything or everyone is not just one single thing but several things at once.
It’s hard to leave that kind of place behind, not when you’ve been spoiled rotten by it. Not when life in it, this melting pot of cultures, is like a series of vignettes from all over the world and you can easily pretend that you have your own little Disney World sans the overpricing.
Of course, I have an option of planting my roots here and just going off on vacations but that would beat the purpose of my dream. I don’t want to be that person who’s lived in the same city most of her life. There’s nothing wrong with that but being the wanderer that I am, I have no intention of planting my roots just yet.
I want to see the world. See it and experience it. Live it.
So that’s the dilemma, my dilemma. The prospect of seeing the world is exciting, exhilarating and I know that I’ll be happier out there. I know that I have to leave eventually if I ever want to have a chance at a fulfilled life.
I just don’t know when exactly or how. This city just isn’t making it easier for me.
All photographs taken in LA by Michelle Rae. She lives, breathes, and haunts in the City of Angeles.