Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My L.A.: Life on the Perch

PEOPLE WHO come to Los Angeles claim to be “searching for themselves” or “trying to experience personal growth,” but the truth is, there is no solitary experience to be had in L.A. With over 12 million residents and a population density of 8169 people per square mile, Los Angeles doesn’t cry out independence - but people continue to seek refuge in moving to L.A. to have their L.A. experience. There are not, generally speaking, quaint coffee shops walking distance from your home where you can write in your journal after a long day on the movie set. Your life in L.A. will typically be as it was anywhere else, because you are still going to be the same person. The trick is to find those places that make Los Angeles unique to you, and once you find them, keep them close. It’s easy to disregard a place you love because you don’t have time for it, especially if you’ve been sitting on the 405 for two hours.

From my balcony you can see into people’s backyards; people’s lives. And that’s really what L.A. is - you’re alone but you’re never alone. You might be having what feels like an individual experience and then come to realize that people can see you from their very bedroom. The streets of L.A. are no different - your phone conversation with your mother is a passerby’s entertainment. What you choose to wear and how you choose to act will be noticed by everyone you encounter and will, in most cases, be used as an instrument to put you into the box of a certain stereotype. People in Los Angeles are both nosy and keenly observant.

It is a city, but, well put by American poet Dorothy Parker, “Los Angeles is seventy-two suburbs in search of a city.” Within these suburbs lives hundreds of thousands of people trying to make L.A. their own. I live on the second story of a five-bedroom home in Westchester, and, yes, that means I live with six other college students - that doesn’t allow much time for me to reflect on just about anything. But my balcony is a haven for me. It is the first place in the house that the sun hits in the morning, striping my walls with its gauzy salmon zest and welcoming me in its whimsical way to another full day. There is something tranquil about going out there, taking a breath, and seeing nothing for miles but rooftops.

Many a morning on my balcony I can get lost in my head, zone out, and just be. If the houses weren’t there, I would be able to see straight into the beach, but the beauty of L.A. is that there are houses there with people in them looking for the same things we are. The Plain White T’s have a song called “Meet me in California,” where they sing “Meet me in California, I’ll be there waiting for your call / ‘Cause you know in California there’s something better for us all.” If I want Los Angeles to be a place that holds my brighter future, I have to hold on to the few places where I am able to unwind. In L.A. we are alone but we’re never alone, because we’re all here, right now, experiencing our own Los Angeles.

-- Jordan Younger
Photo Credit: Jordan Younger's iPhone

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