Ten years ago (minus a couple of stints back east), I moved from Atlanta, GA to West Hills, CA. I’d never been to California and had no idea what to expect, outside of the images seen in film and media. My new roommate, who I’d never met and only talked to on the phone and via email, picked me up from the Union Station where I had only a suitcase and a box holding my desktop pc/monitor (and the train trip cross-country with that was an experience, lemme tell ya!).
The thing I remember so vividly about that day was the oddity of palm trees alongside the roads and mountains in perfect view. It seemed like such a strange contradiction and I couldn’t stop staring out the car window. I also remember being extremely puzzled, and amused, by the traffic lights on the freeway entry ramps. (Actually, they still amuse me, but I don’t have a car so it doesn’t usually matter.)
When I got here, I was filled with the brashness of someone who absolutely knew that I would make it as a tv writer. That I would meet the right person, they would love my writing, and the rest would be Hollywood history. Boy-o was I arrogant. lol! But it was in a lovable, somewhat naïve way, so I don’t hold myself too harshly to task over the unbridled optimism of my ten-year-younger self.
During these past ten years, I’ve grown a lot as a writer. I’ve become both more realistic and more determined to make it, even if it’s only under my own steam to a limited audience, though my ambition is still to become Joss Whedon. My stubbornness has taken a beating with all the rejection, no doubt about that, but I come from good, solid stock with no limits on that stubbornness.
I’ve also grown a lot as a person; become more sure of myself and who I am. Even if my default setting is still Ms. Nice Girl, I’m a lot more inclined to say, “F*ck you, I’ll do it myself,” than I ever was, instead of letting people dictate my future. Part of this is just age. Eventually, we all grow up and either grow a thick skin imbued with that will-do determination, or become complacent in a life that doesn’t reflect who we truly are. I might never get married, probably won’t have kids of my own (sorry, Mom), and I’m probably going to always be somewhat of a vagabond even when I have the money to “settle down.” It’s not normal, but it’s me. Then again, I am a writer and none of us are ‘normal.’
As for SoCal itself… I’m just as in love with Los Angeles as when I first laid eyes on the pale blue sky and gentle warmth that is her November. I hardly ever get to the beaches, even in summer, but I know they’re there, whenever I want to go. I never get to the mountains, but I see them every day, bracing the horizon. Cacti and palm trees line the sidewalks that I walk on every day, no longer alien and exciting, but comforting and right. I could never go back to the oak and maple trees of my pre-SoCal life and I damn sure have no desire to feel any weather that dips below 50F on a regular basis. Hell, I break out the sweatshirt when it dips below 70F. My friends mock me for that, but you know what? I’m the one laughing when they have to shovel out from under three feet of snow in 20F with a windchill of 10F, while I’m enjoying a nice, balmy 60-odd degrees.
And speaking of weather… No major earthquakes since I moved out here, thankfully, but several minor ones. A couple of months after I moved here, we had one in the middle of the night. The creaking of the doors on my entertainment unit woke me up. I sat up and two seconds later, the painting I’d hung on the wall over my bed fell where my head had been. My first lesson of living in earthquake-country: don’t hang anything over your bed unless it’s not going to fall off. There was also a wildfire so bad that the ash fell from the sky like snow for about three days, burning just over the canyon ridge near where I lived at the time. I would say it’s never dull living here, but 90% of the time, the weather is clear and wonderful. Although, it’s never dull living here for plenty of other reasons. ;o)
With Thanksgiving a mere two days away, I have to give thanks for this wonderful city. As troubled as she is, Los Angeles is home to such a variety of people and cultures that it sometimes boggles my mind. And sure, I could do without the flakiness and rudeness often thrown around by people here, but you get that in any city. I shake my head at the people who live here and say that they hate LA. It’s not LA that’s the problem, it’s their lack of adaptability. There is literally something here for everyone, no matter your background, ethnicity, sexuality, financial level, education or the lack thereof. If you don’t love this city, feel free to leave it to those of us who do.
Whatever comes of my future, whether it’s tv/feature writer, novelist, youtube webisode queen, or all of the above, I’m looking forward to the next ten years spent here in SoCal.