Living in Los Angeles is often a love-hate relationship. A former east coaster, I’ve lived here for four years and have resided in Hollywood, Silverlake, the Valley, and now Venice.
Like all major metropolitan areas there is always something to do — you just have to fight traffic to do it. The residents are all attractive and fun but flaky and self-absorbed. The weather is fantastic and they say it’s the smog that makes the sunsets so beautiful. And the phrase “No worries” has become one of my favorites to mimic.
The major difference between the East and West are goals. Back ‘home’ it’s expected by the time you’re 30-years-old that you’re married with kids and have a good job that pays the mortgage on your ranch home about 20 minutes away from where you grew up.
The bubble of LA protects its inhabitants from that lifestyle. We are more career-oriented than family. After all, “there’s always time to do that later if you really want to.” The mindset is to “make it.” LA residents come from all over the country, the world, just in the attempts to taste the sweetness of success. And nothing, not even the social norm of reproducing is going to get in our way.
But LA isn’t notorious for its work ethic, the contrary actually. We didn’t just come for fame and fortune but for the parties and perfect weather. Careers flourish on the concept, “It’s not what you know but who you know” and the party lifestyle plays right into that. After all, no one is more chatty and enthusiastic to help you out than after a couple of drinks and a few lines.
Remember that band you started in high school? The one your parents thought would look good on a college application but not as a career choice? Well some people stuck with it and actually get paid to play at venues like The Viper Room and The Roxy Theatre. Imagine “going to work” means hanging out with your best friends, drinking, and then getting numbers from groupies. Suddenly that bachelor’s degree isn’t looking like the best career move.
I contribute the constant vocational strive compacted with the preserving effects of drugs (not so much alcohol) that keeps the residents looking young. Or it’s the smog. Or the low stress lifestyle. Or that fact that no one eats without asking, “Is this organic?” Maybe it’s the herd mentality of remaining as attractive as the newest imports. I mean no one really acts older than their 20s; why would we look like it?
Not everyone here is a rock star, actor or model (although nearly all my friends are). Make-up artists, sound engineers, and writers also make a living refining what they love to do. One of my writer friends got a dream job working for 20th Century Fox, mostly from home, and his aspiration of seeing his comic books came to fruition this past year. But don’t go racing to buy your plane ticket just yet. Said friend has been working towards that for twenty years. Actors really do work as waiters till they make their big break – a four-second shot of them on a nationwide DirecTV commercial. Models work in bars as dancers getting tips for shaking it for the tourists. Artists sell what they can on the beach and directors use their day job to fund their projects.
The truth is most people don’t make it to the limelight they desire. They’ll never become Brad Pitt, Steven Spielberg, or Cindy Crawford. But they can pay their bills, live in a vacation location, and find happiness in never settling for the easy route.
Living in LA is like living in a time machine that keeps you stagnate as the world passes you by. My east coast friends are all married with little ones and I’m still trying to get my writing career off the ground. The funny part is we each feel bad for each other. They look at me and think, “Wow, she’s just never going to grow up and get her act together” while I think, “What was the rush to hurry up and get old. Don’t they realize how much they are missing?”
Just last night I was talking to an older friend that is also from the East about finding someone. I told her with all the belief in my heart, “The second easiest thing to do is get married. The first is to have a kid. The real challenge is doing the thing that makes you happy and never settling for anything less.” And I plan on sticking to that.