Los Angeles: City of Angels? More like City of Emotional Desolation—A Life Narrative

If I were to write a novel based off a trip I’ve taken, it would be called, “I Ate Less, I Prayed More, There’s No Such Thing as Love.” Similar to Elizabeth Gilbert’s quixotic story of self-rediscovery through world travels, I’d indulge my audience with stories of my 100% self-induced emotionally tumultuous time in Los Angeles.

However, as much as I’d love to write a book retelling my three month excursion to the city of angels, I will not because the stories of my loneliness and boredom would make everyone very sad. Being the humanitarian that I am, I refuse to do as such. Instead, I’ll condense it into one short digital article and hope it gets this point across well: L.A. is not all that it is cracked up to be. Very sorry to ruin your Instagram illusions. But, it’s important to note that, though I was there for a mere three months, I left L.A. feeling like a new person. The hours I spent alone gave me ample time to self-reflect, do some self-therapy, and mull over/come to terms with past mistakes. Looking back, it was worthwhile. Yet, at the time, I felt very lost in the city, very poor, and very unamused. So, without further adieu, here are a few dispatches from the frontlines of my Southern California struggle.

I arrived in Los Angeles at the end of May of 2015. For the first two weeks, I stayed with a friend in Azusa, about 40 minutes outside the city (without traffic). For those two weeks, I commuted to Beverly Hills, where I was interning at a magazine. Google Maps’ 40 minute estimation turned into a 2.5–3 hour trek every morning and every evening. I listened to a lot of music and probably developed scoliosis.

Baring my fleshy arms as I enjoy a great grilled cheese sandwich in Malibu.

For the rest of the summer, I lived right off of UCLA’s campus in a big room with no air conditioning. It was in this room that I watched all of HBO “Girls,” “Freaks and Geeks,” and cried from laughing so hard at “The Inbetweeners.” It was also in this room that I called my friends back in Colorado. During one phone call, one of those friends told me that the guy I had a huge crush on had started dating another girl. Joke’s on her because I was currently attending the same church as Justin Bieber, so there were backup options in the romantic department (the furthest that got was Justin Bieber witnessing me crying in Birkenstocks. A story for another time).

Cooked beef tongue at one of the many Korean BBQ restaurants.

When I wasn’t entertaining a pity party, I was enjoying my job, eating the free healthy snacks, learning from my superiors, and editing and writing articles (which turned out to be quite the struggle as I was right in the middle of a severe case of writers block). When I wasn’t enjoying the perks of being a young professional, I was jogging through UCLA’s gorgeous campus alone, walking the dusty “hiking” trails of Runyon Canyon alone, drinking Americanos in bougie coffee shops alone, and stressing out about the $5.35 per gallon gas prices, also alone.

I visited the beach a few times and thrashed my body against the waves before the waves thrashed my body upon the shore, usually with only half of my bathing suit on. Here is a photo of me bobbing in the Pacific:

During moments of despair, I’d take to social media for solace. Here are a few tweets from the summer of 2015 that depict the wide range of emotion I felt whilst in SoCal:

July 8: “Releasing my first book of personal essays called ‘LA Woes: Living With a Depleted Bank Account & a Crooked Spine from Hours in Traffic.’”

July 8: “When Harry Styles gets coffee at Alfred’s people follow him down the street but when I go I trip on the sidewalk and get loudly honked at.”

July 9: “Kind of almost like LA today, but ask me tomorrow.”

July 12: “Being sorry for myself under a palm tree.”

July 15: “Eating tacos alone.”

July 18: “These people are vapid and sad, and are going to end up divorced in Santa Monica.”

July 23: “I was in the same building as Joe Biden all evening and literally no one else was freaking out as much as me.”

July 30: “My father and sister are coming to LA tonight and I don’t think I have been more excited to see anyone in my life.”

The view of the city from one of my solo hikes.

There were lovely parts of L.A., too. I tend to focus on what I thought was bad, but I’m just a baby. The city can be very nice and there are good people there. Some of my favorite times there were eating tacos outside of LACMA on a sunny day, watching my friend from home do stand-up in the comedy club where many comediennes got their start, meeting people who’s work I’ve admired for years, and every meal and conversation I had with the wonderful people I worked with. Some not so great moments were crying under a palm tree, almost dying on Sunset Blvd., and getting more than one parking ticket outside the place I was living in. I learned how to parallel park real well, I realized what a selfish brat I can be, and I lost 10 pounds.

When people ask me if I could ever live in Los Angeles, my tendency is to cringe, shake my head “no,” and launch into a story about why that idea is the worst. But the truth is, L.A. is not bad at all—just not what you’d typically expect. Chances are, I will probably move back there in the next few years, and when I do, I’ll know exactly where to get the best red velvet pancakes in town.