LA and I don't get along, but we're about to have a friendship

The rain keeps pouring down on Los Angeles, like the clouds are busy prescribing some kind of penance for the collective misgivings of the city, the city that never can live up to its name, a city that takes its warm weather for granted, a status quo entitlement. To the religious, the heavens are opening and God is having a good, long cry. The streets are lined with soaked vehicles the drops edging down ever so slowly. The lucrative hand-wash car wash businesses are slowing to a standstill and looking forward to the aftermath, when the inevitable raindrop marks will need to be cleansed as soon as possible by diligent immigrant laborers thankful to finally be working again after weeks of unanswered unemployment. People out walking the streets are scarce, but then again, they were just as scarce on sunny days. Convertible tops are up, marking the prized few indistinguishable from the masses on the freeway, the California wind-blown dream satisfaction a temporarily spun myth that should come back to life when this madness subsides. Gone are the homeless people scamming for guilt with empty eyes peering into the lavish SUVs on the 101 freeway exit off-ramps. I wonder if it wouldn’t be more profitable to try it on a rainy day, because the pity level would skyrocket. But they're nowhere to be found. I wonder if they’re ducking for cover, like everyone else, until this great big cold shower subsides, until the sun starts baking our souls again, browning them until the smog emanates again from the city streets, stricken with failure and ready to try something new this year. The dirty streets might be a little cleaner, the floods wash over our conscience until we begin to look forward to the sun shining down upon us once again, when the ground is fertile like our moods, when the season is permanently summer once again, and the indefinite future awaits as I plan my departure from this snobby spoiled brat of a city once and for all. Can you stand the rain, Los Angeles? Can you take its ever-present moisture and absorb, or will you stay in hiding, shying from the beautifully clean daylight, giving in to the depression that increases with the force of pounding downpour? This city channels its life from overabundant sunshine, but this rain may never stop. What will you do, then?

I grew up in a rainstorm. Portland was monumentally drenched. I grew up learning to live with it, like my ABCs and multiplication tables, because like the ever-present changing of moods, rain swayed up and down with us, forecasting when we always expected it. It was the one constant reality, so it was comforting, an entitlement of prolonged misery. Soccer in the rain was not only treat; it was the norm, expected along with the high tides. Mid-afternoon matinees let out of the dingy but homey Moreland second-run theater to precipitating days more often than not. Umbrellas and raincoat hoods went up, and we went about our daily lives as if this was simply a nuisance to bypass and leave behind for the next time. I remember being in love in Portland in the rain. The comfort of being indoors with my ex-boyfriend, situated between his warm body and the pillows, with his arm around me on his couch watching a movie we’d already seen dozens of times and didn’t care if we’d see a dozen more, enjoying the company of each other and the winsome raindrops, to which we’d both become accustomed through growing up Oregon. Now I feel jealous of my own self three years ago. The luxuries I could afford back then I can no longer find in a haystack; there are no needles, and if there are they’re no longer threaded. Anyway, while I came of age in a rainstorm, I tried to become an adult in the midst of upstate New York snowstorm, and now I can’t escape the sun’s ability to shine down upon me and unearth my deeply embedded, dried out, thristy melancholy. Somehow grown into an adult that must leave for chillier climates and defined changing of seasons, I’ve come to terms with the fact that has been continuously slapping me in the face for the past three years: Los Angeles and I, we just don’t get along. We’re not compatible. We’ve had some good times, no doubt, but those good times were usually beyond your confines, in places like Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Hancock Park, Pasadena, Duarte, calling out loud, but nowhere near.

Hey, Los Angeles, we’ve got nine more months, let’s not dwell on our goodbyes, let’s make it worth something. We both escaped death in June, so I’ll look back at you with a survivor’s affinity. You heard Mike, one of my best, most dear friends from college and fellow Syracuse snowstorm survivor, you heard him loud and clear at that bar this afternoon when he said, between sips of fine German lager, “LA is a good place to get your feet wet,” and this quote came after he gave me a piggyback ride across the puddle river on the east side of Glendale Boulevard, yet another indication of the city’s inability to take the rain, and yet another indication that my best friends refuse to allow me to get my feet wet. My plans to join the liberal force of academia are hopeful now; I’m waiting for my acceptance letter to go forward, and with the acceptance into grad school as grand as my acceptance to finally leave the LA of it all behind. Yeah, my job may suck, but it can’t suck the life out of all there is left to learn. I have that power on weekends, especially when the rain is on my side and the LA single life can’t get you down, no matter how many players have still got my number. I’ll sock it to them once and for all – the wannabe screenwriter, the wannabe agent, the wannabe manager, the wannabe mainstream musician, the wannabe restaurant owner, the wannabe commercial director, the wannabe model-dating rocket scientist Australian, the wannabe film editor, the wannabe writer...I’ll sock it to all those guys by leaving this existence for healthier shores, more abundant rain, a plan I’ll stick to for better or worse, till death do us part and all that noisy jazz. LA, you’ll be happy to see me go, I can already see the smile curl on your face. My forever friends within your confines, they’re sad to see me go, but they know it’s for the best. LA, you've come to love me, but you’re better off without me. Your wings are drunk and giant. My state of mind is out on a limb this weekend, not really knowing where to step for fear it will be quicksand, preventing further steps from planting, making the intended mark, moving forward in this mucky terrain. Why did I come here in the first place? I wonder, even though I clearly know the answer. What possessed this move? I was seduced, and I gave in to temptation in the same way that any middle-aged married man gives in to a sex club. Guilty, planning nothing, living every moment by the moment. I can’t quite pin the ambition down until I arrive at the here and now, when it’s totally obsolete, a non-entity in a life waiting to burst into flames and get busy. So I await the departure gate’s opening for assurance of all going according to plan. And I look forward to nine months of activity bursting open busy avid mania in the meantime, because LA, we only have a finite duration to party one another into the ground. Let’s do it right.


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