Two Years in L.A. (A Reflection)

Today’s the Jewish New Year–Happy New Year, you Jewish people, you–but it’s also, basically, our two-year anniversary of moving to L.A. Last year, around this time, I wrote a post called “One Year in L.A.: A Reflection.” It’s a pretty fascinating thing for me to re-read because, at the time, we were about to go back to New York for Craig to shoot The Skeleton Twins and I could barely contain my excitement. The gist of that post was: L.A. is fine, but I’m a New York boy through and through.

Two years in, I feel less of a polarity within myself. The key was going back to New York and realizing two things: (1) New York is still there; (2) my old New York life isn’t. That last fact took a while to sink in but once it did, and once I’d spent two months retracing my old steps and attempting to re-live my old experiences, it dawned on me that life had moved on without me. Moving away is a kind of death. People who relied on you, who figured prominently in your day-to-day, learn to live without you. Going back, then, feels a little like going to your own funeral. It was that Tom Sawyer moment of epiphany that made me realize that my life was no longer in New York, it was in L.A.

Once that happened and I just accepted that life is here (we came back in early 2013), I began to really like it. Not just tolerate it, but like it. In particular: I like where we now live (Atwater Village); I like the weather (though a rainy day wouldn’t be so bad, now and again); the produce–especially at the farmer’s market–is unbeatable.

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The food scene is exciting (Bon Appetit just named Alma the best new restaurant in the United States and we’re going there this weekend). The people are just as dynamic and fascinating as people in New York, though on the extreme ends New York has more intellectuals, L.A. has more walking beach bods. I’ll take the beach bods.

As far as culture goes, it’s here for the taking. The Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA was every bit as invigorating as any exhibit I saw while I was in New York (though New York museum culture still hits a nostalgic button for me, especially the Museum of Natural History).

The main difference, I’d say, is tone. There’s a certain manic restlessness about New York that’s like a jolt of adrenaline every time I go there. L.A. takes deep breaths. People go on hikes. When you go to a coffee shop or a juice bar (no, I don’t really go to juice bars, but it is an L.A. thing), chances are the person you interact with will have a restful look about them, their skin will be clear and their speech will be calm. If ambition is what fuels New Yorkers, inner-peace goes a long way out here. People still have ambition, but they have it between yoga classes.

There are flowers here. And long drives listening to podcasts (sometimes, I even take long drives so I can listen to a particular podcast; most recently, Marc Maron’s interview with Catherine O’Hara). Sure, there’s still superficiality, obnoxious conversations that you overhear (mostly screenwriters talking screenplays with other screenwriters; yesterday I heard a guy talk up his project: “Twin Peaks” meets “Sex and the City”). It’s not all good but it’s not all bad. That’s true of most cities.

Which is all to say, two years in, I’m happy here. I’m not at Randy Newman level yet, but when it comes to this city–and you can quote me on this–I like L.A.

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