The New Yorker In Los Angeles
Contrary to popular belief & clickbait, you can love two cities.
To know me is to know my love-hate relationship with New York City, the city I was born and educated in. The city that broke my heart and left me literally broke during the 2009 recession. The city I fled for Los Angeles, the antithesis of NYC. The city of stars, cars, and Hollywood scars.
To love New York is to understand that the people who do so love the city all-encompassing. Like John Steinbeck’s famous quote says, no other place is good enough. To love New York as a New Yorker, you devote your loyalty, your time, your paychecks, your unbearable subway rides, your everything to the Big Apple, because NYC is enduring. It is everything you have, every single day. I have lived that life. I have loved that life.
To love New York in LA is to be one of many transplants with Hollywood Dreams and East Coast Attitudes. They whine about traffic and having a car and never walking. Whether you mean to or not, you become the quintessential “New Yorker in LA” character who disses kale and yoga before talking about subways, 9/11, and NYU, where everyone assumes you went to Tisch. No matter how much kale you juice, how much yoga you endure, or how many times you say you did not go to Tisch, you never seem to become someone else. LA will always see you as “The New Yorker in LA,” a specter who will one day return the other coast to wear heavy winter coats and to complain about the MTA, during which this character reminisces fondly of their brief sojourn out west.
“Do you miss it?” I get asked every time small talk allows me to declare that I am a former New Yorker in LA. I say no, I don’t miss it, because I am no longer the all-in, all-encompassing New Yorker. I have lived on LA for 7 years — almost a decade — and I like kale very much and I haven’t worn a winter coat in years. But it doesn’t matter, because the other person always says, “You miss it. Of course you miss it.”
Occasionally, I do miss it, but I do not whine about it. I do not use it to insult LA; Los Angeles doesn’t care about you unless you have a manager, an agent, and an overall deal. I miss New York City for my youth, my possibilities, my memories, my parents, my college years. Every time I go back I feel the pangs of the past, but also the reminder that despite what John Steinbeck says, some place else can be good enough and has been good enough for a long time.
Contrary to popular belief and “N.Y.C. to L.A. Ad Infitinum” in The New Yorker and even past articles I have written, you are allowed to love two cities. Because New York is a city that taught me to dream big about the world, and the possibilities that lie beyond the East River and Hudson.
New York City has taught me that it’s OK to let go and come back, because that love will always be there, even if it isn’t all-encompassing. And really, the NYC that I know and love would rather you just get the hell out of the way until you’re all-in again.