The other day, I was having a get-to-know-you conversation with a woman whose husband is in the military. They’ve moved around quite a bit, living in different parts of the United States and in the Middle East. We discussed life in Southern California and she asked me how long I’ve been here. I proudly answered that on May 1st, it would be fifteen years. Fifteen years! That’s a long time to live somewhere and not consider moving back home. So she then asked me if I was “here for good.” Well, that question always makes me laugh. I really wanted to answer, “I’m here for evil” but I played it straight and said “life is really good now, and I’m not sure what the future holds.”
How do you know when a place is right for you?
On May 1, 2002, I moved to LA after a short stint in San Francisco. I moved to SF after college and worked in tech public relations. It was a challenging time… going to work everyday at the same office, not having my college friends nearby, living on my own. At the time, I didn’t feel like I fit into life in San Francisco. I felt very plain compared to all of the alterna-folks (in those days hipsters weren’t a thing, but the “alterna” look was alive and well: piercings, interesting haircuts, unique fashions, not too much different from today).
In other words, I didn’t love living in San Francisco. My job was okay, though I knew it was definitely not going to be my career.
At the time, I was dating someone in LA and we visited each other frequently. When the tech boom busted, I got laid off and eventually found a job in Los Angeles. He and I rented a U-Haul and drove down the Grapevine to LA.
Our relationship didn’t last, but my time in the city did – with one interesting quirk. Even though I’ve stayed in Los Angeles, I’ve really never stopped moving. Some stats from the last fifteen years:
- Ten different apartments
- Seven different roommates
- Two cars
- Two cats
- Four serious relationships
- I’ve lived in Huntington Beach, Santa Monica (twice), Beverly Hills adjacent, West Hollywood, West LA, Long Beach, Topanga Canyon and Thousand Oaks
Santa Monica is one of my favorite places on Earth. Beaches, and I adore the culture there. On the other hand, Huntington Beach was one of the worst places I’ve lived. It’s beautiful and near the beach, but when I was there I felt like the city was oddly abuzz with white supremacists.
Now I’m in Thousand Oaks. I never thought I’d live in the ‘burbs. There are thousands of trees and it sometimes feels like thousands of miles to my friends.
Clearly, I’ve bounced around. While I was first writing this, I felt embarrassed about having lived in so many places. But then I realized this is a common experience for tons of Angelenos, especially if we’re between the ages of 22 and 40… We are experimental and open to trying new things. Plus, some situations don’t work out, so what do we do? Move.
It’s easy to focus on the moving, on the distances and disruption. But something about Los Angeles – no matter what the neighborhood is – feels like home to me. It all feels connected.
I’ve always heard terrible things about LA — no culture, no community, tons of flakey people. But that hasn’t been my experience. In fact, the fifteen years here have been so important to my growth. I’ve made friends I’ll keep forever. I’ve become a real person, I’ve found a career. I’ve learned how adaptable and self-reliant I am.
When things haven’t worked out when living with a boyfriend or a roommate, we’ve parted ways and I’ve moved. Those times weren’t easy, that’s for sure, but they were real. And, I’d choose real any day over simple.
Will I still live here in another fifteen years? The short answer is I have no idea. I think it depends on my relationships, my work and my philosophy of life. I’ve been adaptable, which is why I’ve lived in ten different apartments. I don’t regret any of it.
Just like I told my new friend, life is really good now, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
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Other posts you might like: What’s Happened Since I Started Putting Myself Out There, The Process of Success and Brunch Popup, or One of The Best Days of My Life.