I am a resident of Los Angeles, California now. If I weren’t signed up for paperless billing, my credit card bill would go to LA, CA, USA. If I were faster at doing things on my to-do list, I would be registered to vote in the same city that Lauren Conrad is. (I have a very surface-level knowledge of her and assume that she both lives in LA and votes.)
I will be living here for at least the next two years of my life for school and feel, as with any ending/beginning I experience, funny about it. My boyfriend came to help me move in and as we walked around talking about how different everything is here compared to what we’re used to, he suggested I should write down some first impressions to revisit later. I love this idea and can’t believe I, a highly sentimental and stationery loving person, have never done it before in any of the places I’ve been.
So that’s what this is: the view from my first week here in LA. I hope I’ll be able to look back on this in a year, five, ten, seven hundred, and feel funny all over again.
1. LA is loud
Shocking, I know! Who would have known that a large city is loud? I guess not me. I knew intellectually that LA is a major metropolitan area and chock full of car alarms and honking and yelling. I think I even though it would be fine, because I’ve spent time in places like London and Beijing before and it was all fine.
So I suppose this feels different because there is no end in sight to the commotion. After a few weeks I’m not going home to a small city full of bikes where I will most certainly see my high school teachers at the farmer’s market. I just live here now, amongst the LA honks.
The city is louder with style, too, and I’m already tired of the hypebeast look. I am really liking seeing cute girl outfits though! And I’m looking forward to not being the most overdressed person in class anymore.
2. city people are, oh, how do you say – bolder
While shopping at Trader Joe’s for groceries, we remarked how nobody seemed to have much sense of other people here. We’d be walking with our cart and people would just barge into us to get past, no “sorry, excuse me” or “can I squeeze by?”. Back home (and that’s another thing – what is “back home” to me now??) people say good evening to you when you’re out for a walk or tell you that the peppers you’re standing in front of were great in their last soup.
We started joking about how we were just lil ol’ country bumpkins and everybody could tell because we smiled at strangers we made eye contact with and said excuse me to get past people and made an effort to not block the juice aisle and I was wearing Birkenstocks. It’s funny, because I’ve always fancied myself a ‘city person’ more than a ‘country bumpkin’. I think I’m realizing the shades within that binary and how it feels to be in a City surrounded by actual City People. People walk fast with purpose. Everyone feels busy doing I don’t know what, but it is all urgent enough that they must honk to get there faster.
I guess I’ll have to build a bit of a tougher shell.
3. everyone here is a College Student
I’m surrounded by the Youth! I am one of the youth myself and now I live amongst them. All the apartments here in Westwood are (mostly) other college students. In another shocking revelation, it is a unique experience – to be sequestered away with a specific age bracket for a few years. My neighbor is no longer an elderly Asian woman who offers me tangerines from her garden. My neighbors are a group of boys around my age who smoke enough weed that when I walk past their window to get to my door, I’m hit by a marijuana leaf shaped plume of smoke. They also like to practice trumpet at 1AM, I think.
It feels a little lonely right now, and I don’t think it helps that I’m surrounded by my Peers. I’m just sort of reminded of all the social experiences I’m not having but could be having every time I overhear a conversation from my bedroom window (they all float up because these buildings are old and I keep the windows open constantly to make up for the lack of A/C) or a party two houses over. How unsure I feel is compounded by seeing people already settled and I know, I know, I shouldn’t be comparing myself to others. Anxiety and social anxiety are really not fun.
4. there are just a looo0ot of different kinds of people
I’m hearing a lot of different languages and seeing a lot of different shades of skin when I walk down the street. I like it. The city where I’m from is pretty white, a little East Asian, and not a ton of other stuff. I like seeing the physical evidence of finding joy in our diversity and I hope it’ll broaden my mind too.
People are also richer and poorer. When I walk around I see a lot of Range Rovers and Yeezys, but I also see a lot of school janitors walking home. And obviously, I’m a college student paying an arm and a leg and a firstborn child to live in a very smol apartment. The gaps between us all are starker here than at home.
5. this time is mine
I live here now. LA has never been a city I’ve loved. I think I came here for the first time when I was young to go to Disneyland. I’ve been back since then to see people I know, cousins, friends, whatever, and the city has just always felt ugly and unappealing to me. It hasn’t inspired an immediate sense of fuck, I have to find a way to live here like New York did the first time I went there. It’s just felt like oh. This is what all the movies go on about? That’s it?
But I live here now, and I’m certain I’m being unfair to this city and its people. There is a history and a life and a feeling I have yet to discover. I hope I do so well. I want to find my favorite neighborhood, my favorite tree I’ll walk past every day, my favorite bathroom on campus. I’ll go see bands that never stop near the city I’m from. I’ll find out why people love this place and maybe (hopefully) I will too. I’m going to live here and sleep here and laugh here and cry here and love here.
I want to make this city and this school feel like home.