I don't like LA.
In fact, up until two weeks ago, I hated it. The reasons are so copious it's faster to ask me what I do like about this dust sprawl.
(Answer: No snow, cheaper food than NY, lots of Asians.)
So what changed my profound hatred of Los Angeles into mere distaste?
This blog post.
The Churlish New Yorker
I returned from my Harvard reunion a few weeks ago, feeling my heart sink as it always does when the plane coasts over the dull, brown house-boxes that stretch on for miles until the concrete squares signaling LAX.
"I've never seen anything so ugly," I thought.
The feeling of repulsion is alway sharpest when I return from the East Coast, teeming with its greenness and energetic people. It takes me a while to reenter the zombie stupor California operates in.
One of my favorite church sisters heard me grumble about LA over dinner.
"You should like where you live," she admonished.
But should you?
Don't Should On Yourself
I thought long and hard about her idea. And I realized, no, you don't have to.
You don't have to like where you live.
You don't have to like what you do for work.
You don't have to like anything. Anything at all.
Like is not love. Like is a feeling - a fondness or affection for something. Feelings are really hard to maintain - impossible, actually. They will always come and go, and have a pesky habit of being affected by external situations.
It puts a lot of pressure on people to have to constantly like something - even a spouse. (Some would say especially a spouse...)
I hereby release everybody from the imperative that you simply must like every major thing in your life.
That's something the coaching industry wants you to believe, so you'll hire them to "fix" your life when you don't like something in it.
So no, I don't like LA and I have no delusion that I someday will. But I do enjoy my life here. And I love many, many people here. I even have a wistful fondness for the memories of my wacky Hollywood days, where being 21 was an excuse to wear a headband-length skirt. (It's a special grace that snapchat wasn't invented then.)
The Freedom to Feel What You Want
As soon as I gave myself permission to hate this city, I stopped.
I realized I didn't need anyone here to understand me. They don't. I don't need to wish Angelenos would move out of their mom's house and consider traveling somewhere outside the 1-mile radius they were born in. They won't. They don't have to walk faster, or stop looking at their cell phones just because they're driving a car. They can continue flaking out, not responding to text messages, and believing that sitting in 2 hours of traffic is not, in fact, a waste of their lives.
They're not New Yorkers. They're Angelenos. I'll never like their culture. And that's ok.
The next time I got off the train at Union Station (I still try to replicate the East Coast lifestyle in some ways), I looked kindly at all the slow people ambling through the tunnel, nowhere to go and nothing to do.
"Aw," I thought. "Look at the Angelenos. This is all they know"
I even know how to skin change to blend in: