Love Letter to Los Angeles

View from my apartment in Sawtelle.

This weekend marks my one-year anniversary of moving to Los Angeles. Here’s a love letter to my new city.

Dear LA,

I felt drawn to you from the beginning. It was several years ago — I came to you for the first time after a heartbreak. I partied at a mansion in the Hollywood Hills and a porn star told me something I’ll never forget: “You’ve been living your life like a princess under the bridge,” he said, “and forgot that you’re the queen who invented the universe.” It blew my mind, to say the least. I also ate fresh fish in Malibu and I think that healed me. The point is: You were weirdly, inexplicably magical from the beginning.

The second time I met you, I was here temporarily for work, all naïve and insecure. Despite my anxiety and perfectionism, you took me in. You showed me flowers and sunshine and waves. You reminded me of my dreams and ambitions. You gave me a preview of what I could become: relaxed. I kept you in the back of my mind, while my hectic life continued without you.

And then I finally made the move, when I was ready. We reunited and it just felt right, like it was meant to be. I wondered why it took me so long to get to you. Here I am. Thank you for waiting.

The thing about love is this: it requires letting go and holding tight, simultaneously. That’s what makes it feel impossible.

But we’ve managed so far, haven’t we? I left a lot of things behind. I surrendered to the pull of you. And I’m learning to hold onto your magic, even if I take it for granted sometimes.

That leads me to my favorite things about you, in no particular order:

The way you light up. I see how you shine in a million different ways. You have sunshine so bright, it’s assaulting. But you also make that soft pinky haze that turns everything rose-gold at the end of the day, usually whenever I’m doing something boring, like carrying laundry up the stairs, as if to remind me: BEAUTY IS FOREVER AROUND YOU. You know I forget, sometimes. You also make those overwhelming, glorious sunsets that feel like God is staring directly at me, and I’m not sure if I even believe in God. If I turn away for just a minute, I miss the brilliance of it all. Your sky plunges into royal blues and purples, quickly; I can feel the planet spinning when I’m with you. My favorite is your sunrise, a morning vinyasa that inhales behind the mountains and exhales across the Pacific, chanting, “Good morning, you’re here, stay with me.” I’m lucky if I’m awake for it.

Dusk. Dawn.

How you feed me. I thought I’d lose weight with all the hiking, cycling, and long walks on the beach. But instead, I’m thicker than ever, thanks to your gourmet donuts, late-night ramen, Taco Tuesdays, and farmer’s market pupusas. (Shout-out to the Latina ladies who grill street meat outside the club, too.) I’m not complaining. You nourish me.

Your expansiveness. To me, you’re the City of Angels not because you protect me, but because you free me. I never feel stifled with you. I left a fish bowl to swim in your ocean, and after a year, I still feel like I’ve barely left your shores. I experience your diversity, one adventure at a time. Every trailhead, every bike path, every beach pier, is another clue of your treasure map, waiting to be unlocked. You’re a mosaic of possibilities. Every broken piece is art.

Your rage. It terrifies me but reminds me that our love is fragile. Your wildfires, your earthquakes, your mudslides. Perhaps, one day, your tsunamis. These are your imperfections that remind me that paradise is an illusion. But I’d rather choose reality than be deceived by a fantasy. I can learn to respect the dark parts of you, too.

Anyway. That’s all for now. More to come.

Some things are better left unsaid.