I know that this is a place which people all over the world dream about getting to one day. I like to think of it as a modest stretch of land populated by humble working people, but I can see how to someone looking from the outside in, L.A. is a place that’s almost mystical, made of stardom and glitz, and where dreams go to be lived.
To consider such an idyllic version of the town at the same time that I walk through its colder, less polished concrete is a fine balancing act. It is also an aberration, like the very sight of a pedestrian through the sidewalk in Los Angeles itself; most people pay little attention to it.
Few drivers who sit through L.A.’s traffic jams long enough are even remotely interested in what the city might actually be other than an endless waiting game amid stop lights. In the same regard, few of the mass of hard workers who maintain the city only to find that its maintenance gets harder with each day could be expected to be concerned about the culture their work creates here.
Even among many of L.A.’s young people, when all they see about Los Angeles is the limited stretch of concrete and asphalt they’ve known in it since time immemorial, it matters little if their parents may have come here viewing it as a beacon of opportunity in a world where opportunities were mostly scarce.
In each case, I wonder if this sense of longing, or the human tendency to feel incomplete, is at the heart of why cities exist. There are people who wait their whole lives to make it to places like L.A., while others like the city’s natives can only dream of getting out. Yet this is how the idea of the city survives. In acting like colonies, constantly churning the exit of one mass while opening the doors to another, cities retain their positions as places of opportunity when those who leave also leave legacies behind which those newly arriving hope to remake. Until the next churn.
I am somewhere in between, but I know I’m not alone. I love the place that I was born in even if it’s not quite the place so many movies and musicians and other marketing campaigns promised it would be. My hand goes out to everyone with a dream to recreate themselves in L.A., as well as to everyone who is ready to leave their old selves here.
Through it all, I’ve found that for me the land is mostly inward. That is, that it’s in myself where the dreams live. But rising from those dreams to the sunshine of Los Angeles is quite dreamy as well. I am right where I belong.