EAST SIDE TO THE WEST SIDE
Last month and change (or was it two months? I can’t say, I don’t speak time) I visited New York for the first time after leaving it exactly 10 years ago. Back to the crime scene, as I lovingly call it. Well, to be precise it wasn’t really a first first time as I rolled in every year or two for few days here and there, but first time to actually stay and properly feel it again.
I can’t intelligibly explain to myself what New York means to me, more less to you folks. To even try seems like an inane task. After all, New York is not about words or even lifestyle that many of the bland folk like to address in super irritating way — “Omg, New York is sooooo me!” Let’t get something straight: If you can utter the words New York is so me with the straight face, you are just about anything else, BUT New York.
And I understood what NY means, only when I left it. It’s not who you are, it’s HOW you are. How you think, behave, operate, communicate. How you love, how you make love, how you deal with the world and how you react to the world dealing with you. New York is simply how you are.
I was so young when I first came to The City, and I didn’t really analyze the why’s and the how’s back then. All I know I was like on steroids 24/7, running around, swallowing life like I’ll ran out of it any second now. The only thing I do know, and knew back then, was that NY is the only place on the planet where I didn’t feel too much, didn’t feel too intense, where everybody and their mother did not take offense in everything I did or said, where being weird, being me, being tough and honest and inappropriate and strong and weird and vulnerable and tough and all over the place — was just right.
Why leave then, you ask? Why leave if everything was so right? Well, maybe that’s exactly what threw me out, that creepy familiarity, impact, reach, confidence; sometimes we just need to ruin things, leave things, hurt things, to realize those are our things. And, also because we get yanked out, by life, by love, by fear, circumstances, and it’s up to us to drag ourselves and aim to whichever way we want to go. Or be.
Next stop? California. Well, right after few life/love/circumstance detours! New York and California always represented that familiar duality struggle I have in me. The moody twin in me. Black or white? Vulnerable or tough? City streets or the beach? Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp? Intenseness or peace?
My childhood was intensely influenced by American Television. For me, it was not entertainment, it was the way of life. Someday. One day. New York was the place I wanted to get an education at, study, have that crazy city college life interlaced with intense clubbing, meeting people from all over, intern at some gallery. But, I also wanted a beach, that License To Drive chill, (I know. Stop it.), wearing flip-flops all day, hang out at the CD stores for hours, visit music venues and bars where superstars of tomorrow come to play their private sets, sit in my car, count the palm trees, unsuccessfully try to surf, bust a knee or two skateboarding….
And so I did.
I enjoyed everything California has to offer, I relived my teen 90’s movie fantasies, my 10 Things I Hate About You’s, my flip-flops, the palms, the Ocean, the music; visually, this place is the closest thing to paradise, than anything I have ever seen on this planet. Everywhere you turn, its a damn Polaroid scene! Despite all of that, I just never truly felt like myself in Los Angeles.
And I needed a trip East to figure out why.
There’s a saying I always recycle — New York is tough on me on the outside, but kind to me on the inside, and Los Angeles is tough on me on the inside, but kind to me on the outside. Weather is important to me, outdoors is important to me. I’m a prototype of a messy, undone beach girl. Did you ever watch Blue Lagoon? I can straight out live like that! Well, throw me one Apple product and I can live like that! But, the older I get I realize it’s the people around you that determine your life, and the people around you will maintain your soul in the best possible condition. Not the beach, the hills or 80 degrees.
Seeing my New York friends after so long was downright therapeutic for me. It was like I never left; you realize time passed, experiences or milestones were missed, BUT the core is there. The core of these people stayed the same, their soul is still intact, youthful, free-spirited, they belong to you. You belong to them. Its like we are some sect, a tribe, like we know something no one in the world knows, like we are the only ones in the know, inside the circle, we were and we are this town, no matter where we go.
People in Los Angeles. I swear, the language has not yet been invented that could describe and explain the people of LA properly. And by this I don’t really mean the actual people of LA, the ones that were born and raised here. Those are generally good, nice folks. Its the people that moved here. People that came looking for fame, looking for something big and getting lost in their search. Its like their lives are not really lives but placeholders, constantly just vegetating and waiting for that one big thing they decided has to be coming their way.
They don’t have time for you, they don’t have time to try, to listen, to understand, to care. They are preoccupied with their WANT. They don’t LIVE, they just WAIT. All while becoming slaves to their attempting, wishing, dreaming. And, you know what? I came to peace with it. LA is a great place if you don’t need anything from anyone. When you can just live, be, create, surf. I try to concentrate away from their WANT to my DOING & BEING.
How to survive not needing anything from anyone, you ask? Is that even possible, going through life with no one’s assistance? It’s not possible. How do we do it here? Miracles, people. Miracles. We’re downright magicians, here in LA. After all, it’s what’s expected here! “Here’s nothing! And with it, make everything!” — its a Los Angeles mantra. You don’t believe me? Come. Try.
One thing you learn in this town, though, is to accept. You deal with so much, you end up accepting a great deal. And that makes you free! Think about it; if you can achieve such state in your life to be ok with everything, to not get mad or riled up with things, strangely, you achieve freedom of nonchalance that’s sometimes (read, often times) crucial for getting things done. Being pissed and annoyed prevents us. Tolerance and not giving a damn, gets us places.
But there’s just one thing I can’t seem to accept or come to peace with in this paradise, how ever much I try — the sex part. Or should we call it — the hierarchy of the sexes. Never have a felt more like the weaker sex, then in this town. Never had I felt bigger difference between women and men, than in this town. I blame Hollywood for this. It’s like its philosophy spread way beyond the studio lots, to everyday life. The way women are treated and what women themselves allow, even encourage in this town. Men treating women like their entertainment value, after hard day of work. An ornamental, rather than functional human beings, who are not allowed to have problems, issues, but be submissive, available, agreeable to every advance coming their way!
New York is the place that celebrates strong women. The stronger, more capable, independent you are, the better. LA is the place that fears strong women. In LA, strong, honest, straight-forward is not called that; it’s called aggressive, rude and too much. You can’t be tough in LA. If you’re decent, honest and demand to be treated as such, you will constantly be called rude and bitchy. People will be angry at you, men will be angry.
Specially if they text you at 2 am, and you tell them off. Men in LA have this specific superpower of being on the verge of retardation for thinking they can lay eyes on you once, barely know you, not ask you anything about your relationship status in life but decide they can text you in the middle of the night, and you NEED TO BE on the receiving end of their unsolicited crap. Agreeable, chipper. God forbid you have a life, a boyfriend, husband and 3 kids, or just someone you spend your nights with and these messages inconvenience you. God forbid you voice this, you will be called rude and bitchy.
Does it happen in other towns? Please tell me in the comment section if it does, and your experience/examples of it! I want to know if this is not just an LA thing, but it became a world wide thing?! Honestly, this might be the thing that positively sends me over the edge, and I want to know if it happens in other areas, so please share your experiences bellow!
When I think about it; this is some serious black & white shit, these two towns. Almost everything is exactly the opposite! Maybe that’s where the lifelong East — West rivalry is coming from; the ways. The way one or the other operates.
Take height for example. New York is obsessed with tall women! You can be not that cute, but tall and you’ll get into any club. In fact, its better to be all right looking and tall then beautiful and short, as few of my friends that own NY clubs and venues constantly point out. So rude! I’m tall and even I get insulted with that! It didn’t stop there. I organized an event while visiting NY just now and got one of my friends to invite some people last minute. He was going over names in his phone, scrolling and saying out loud — “Too short, too short….”, and refused to invite any girl that was shorter than 5’11! I was looking at his face in disbelief, waiting for that post joke wink and/or laugh, but it wasn’t there. The dude was dead fucking serious.
Los Angeles? Totally opposite.
If you are short or you ever felt short in your life, come to Los Angeles! You will experience revolution! Men in LA are not tall. Men in LA like to feel manly. In order for men in LA to feel manly, they need to have a smaaaaall woman next to them. There’s a running joke in Los Angeles, a 5’11 joke. Let me elaborate. Every men (read actor) is 5’11 in this town. There’s a saying in LA: “Are you 5’11, or are you LA 5’11”? Let me elaborate more. Every actor from 5’8 and up says they are 5’11 in this town. And if you try to challenge his 5’11, you will get scolded. Do not touch actor’s 5’11-ness! LA does not like tall women. In fact, LA made its own rules when it comes to height. They decided, 5’3 is normal. Kayne West’ spouse is regular height in Los Angeles. Short are going to be called maybe Olsen twins, that are 4’11. 5’7 is tall in Los Angeles. So all of us that are 5’10, 5’11, or 6 ft, we are basically not people, but Avatars!
I would be free to say, LA is a worldly town. People are not close minded or anything else. Yet the questions I receive about my height on daily basis are like I’m an alien with green skin and my ship just wrecked in Little Rock, Arkansas. All day long: How tall are you, OMG you’re so tall, OMG how tall are you, OMG do you tall people even walk, or you just FLOAT? ALL DAY LONG, EVERY DAY. Like they grew up in the Stone Age and height is this groundbreaking thing that needs to marinate in their heads. And god forbid you’re tall and you put on heels! All the 5’8 and up actors, pardon 5’11 actors see it as a stab, an attack, a personal insult to their lack of inches; not even having a thought cross their mind, are you ready — “She is not out there to get me, SHE JUST LIKES THOSE SHOES!”
What’s the answer people? Where do we belong, what are we?
Last day of my New York trip, I was on the street hailing a cab, and this gentlemen stops, I sit in, smile, exchange few words, and he almost yells at me, jokingly: “You’re not from here! Are you from California?” I look at him in disbelief, almost insulted. And say: “What! Why do you ask?”. And he says: “Because I see you’re different, nice, smiley, sunny, you must be from California!”
Never in my life, I’ve been called those attributes. Maybe few here and there, but al those lined up together? Blasphemy.
OMG, am I becoming sunny? Is LA rubbing off on me?! Whats’s happening here? I also smiled at someone random at the NY bar, a rather groundbreaking occasion that resulted in the person reporting the event to the bartender, all surprised. Smiling in the bar? What am I even anymore? Who am I?!
Can we ever really find our for sure? I don’t know about you, but being a bit of black and white, East and West, Johnny and Brad, city and beach, soft and tough might just be my ONLY way. Not fully be content anywhere, but grabbing all of those pieces of EVERYTHING from EVERYWHERE to even attempt BEING complete.
Originally published at mirandavidak.com on May 26, 2015.