I love this! I first fell in love with Los Angeles when I was 10 years old (Brit, over here). I've been a total of 4 times in the past 12 years, and our relationship has been a roller-coaster.
I was still enamoured at 14, then not so much on my third trip -- I was 19 and fickle. The city had been my dream home and it spited me with tourist traps and consumerism in all its facets that were easy to ignore when I was younger but felt abrasive against my more mature values and principles.
I gave it another shot when I was 21, I don't know why. Flights were cheap and the dreamer within me clung to the city for dear life. I flew to SF first, actually, and slept on a stranger's couch using Couchsurfing. I walked the whole city and thought smugly, "This is what L.A. is missing. Walkability. Culture. Beautiful cracks and crevices at every turn".
A few days later, I boarded a redeye greyhound to The City of Angels. I felt anxious that I would be disappointed again, yet I also nurtured an inkling that this time would be different. Again, a kind stranger opened their home to me for free. She, too, was a student, so she lived in Westwood, near the UCLA campus.
Since I had frequented L.A's sites three times by this point, I vowed to sink into the place, this time. To act like I lived there and see if I could unearth a hidden underbelly, warm and welcoming, that I'd missed before.
So, I spent almost 3 days just wandering Westwood alone. Stopping at a coffee-shop for 3 hours of work. Spending an hour inside Trader Joe's marvelling at the billions of plant-based options that I wouldn't see back home in England for at least a couple of years. Lounging on the greens of the UCLA campus, pretending it was the institution I attended when, in reality, I'd be stepping on a plane in a week's time to return to UCL-minus-the-A -- University College London.
Needless to say, I fell in love all over again, and harder than ever before. It felt like a real love, a grittier love, one that had experienced hardship, that had been through the "will-they-won't-they make it?" moment and emerged with a renewed commitment.
Reading this story felt, to me at least, like a beautiful ode to commitment. It's easy to give up on things -- places, people, dreams -- based on first impressions (or even second or third ones), the chides of irrelevant others or, quite frankly, lack of effort.
And I must say, I don't subscribe to the idea that there's nobility in suffering. If you know that shit's not for you, get the hell out of there.
But when there's that little part of you that thinks "if only I could make this work", well I'll be damned if you don't give it your best shot.
9 times out of 10, giving it your best shot means you've gotta quit hanging your head, and instead be willing to pay attention and to hunt for the little nooks and cranny's that can open you up to a whole new dimension of that person/place/thing that you weren't previously privy to.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful corner. I'm sure you didn't think one little pin-drop on the map could incite such an expansive response from a stranger on the internet -- yet here we are!
I'll be sure to check it out when I make my comeback.