My Life in Los Angeles

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What prompted my musing was an email from a close friend, just settled in Hong Kong less than a couple of months ago. The message for Earth Day along with “peace, infinite possibility, and faith” is a more poignant note about the “trust that we are exactly where we are meant to be.” That got me thinking about why am I in Los Angeles—my least favorite city in the U.S.

I am a city girl and never liked LA the first time I set foot in the city—more than twenty years ago. I had since visited the city once more in the late 90s before settling here reluctantly in 2007. Or should I say unsettling here. My husband, G, was laid off late last year, no surprise given the current state of the economy and LA’s unemployment rate is the highest in California. So we moved again. This time, five minutes away from our spacious, modern beach condo with a private roof-deck to a much older, smaller beach apartment. Two years in LA and I can’t call it home …

You meet plenty of acquaintance of great diversity but it’s hard to make friends. People who moved here for more than twenty years are telling me the same thing—people are transient (rarely do you meet one who was born here), people move in and out of LA. So the maxim, “People make friends for a reason or for a season,” rings true.

Connection is a BIG thing just to have a social life, not to mention jobs. Not many are interested to make friends because you’re NICE! However in LA style, you can end up with an interesting story to tell. In the right neighborhood, you can live next door to someone famous or have a friend who is a cousin of George Clooney (my friend’s neighbor and another friend’s pastor. In short, George Clooney must have a colony of relatives in LA). There’s a popular indie band that lived a few doors away from our condo. I have seen a long, stretch limo with heavily-tinted windows pulled up outside the house.

The six-degree of separation is a reality here. Everyone is connected to “some one” … many not ashamed to flaunt it. If you tried hard enough, you can trace your lineage back to Barack Obama.

Without friends, it is a lonely experience in a very spread-out metropolis of 4 million people. The loneliness can turn people crazy. That’s why it’s not unusual to meet very crazy people who are totally socially-inept. Example Phil Specter, genius composer turned murderer, who lives alone in his massive castle. For some reason they are able to function at work but put them in a social setting, they’re lost or displayed weird, awkward or anti-social behavior.

I remembered at a group dim-sum, one guy just ate silently … continually stuffing his face! Unfortunately he sat next to my husband, G, and I was on the other side of G. G had no one else to converse with, except me. I thought the guy might have been shy. But he was not awkward when talking to the hostess—two seats away. When the dim-sum was over, he eagerly, unabashedly volunteered to doggy-bag everything home when everyone was still mulling over the question of leftovers. I found out later that he had a thing for the hostess but was unreciprocated. So he remained sullen throughout the brunch. Talking about coming for a reason, he was very single-focused and made the most from his brunch. Sigh, he wasn’t bad looking, just badly brought up!

When I received this message of “peace, infinite possibilities, and faith,” I was wondering what my gifts were and what good faith I bring with me. Then I realized I have this uncanny way of making friends, no matter how isolated I was. My LA survival skill.

First year I was very lonely and lost. But I was exploring and learning, so it kept me busy. The novelty and adventure soon wore off. It was tiresome to drag yourself across bad traffic just to get anywhere.

Immediately at the start of my second year, I was fortunate to make some very good friends—some considered me lucky to make friends so quickly. (Huh? One whole year?)

Some outstanding ones are: Our first true friends—one couple whom we adore always mixes good company with gourmet food. They would in “Beverly Hills style” buy us expensive dinners—fancy restaurants with an even fancier wine list. We already had been to their vacation home in Mexico and they genuinely offered us their place to use anytime! Every room (bedrooms and living room) has the expansive ocean view! Both of them are witty and very smart equal wonderful conversations. Did I mention authentic and graciously generous?

I recently joined a group of people (mostly in the fifties) for evening walks. The lady organizer is about ten years older than me though she looked fantastically young for her age. We got on famously even though we just knew each other for a few weeks … discussing life and Buddhism (she’s a research scientist and Buddhist at the same time). She can find a synergy between Buddhism and quantum physics and tread both topics very well. I soon found out she worked for a very prestigious think-tank (G said everyone there, except for the janitor, has an average IQ of 300). She would be involved in government missions to help third-world countries build infrastructure and set-up urban planning. Thru the group, I also met a Hawaiian lady with Asian roots. Very Bohemian and sage-wise … very new age. Now the three of us are good friends.

Another, I met through my volunteer work at Hollyhock House which is the first Frank Lloyd Wright’s house in LA. She used to work for high-powered executives and lives in a gated community where actors are neighbors … Lily Tomlin was her next-door neighbor until a few years ago. Again, she is another smart cookie who had done things way ahead of her time. Her knowledge of LA history mixed with LA’s art and social scene made our conversations lead to endless hours of conversation.

I can’t say I can find many good things to say about LA. However I am grateful I finally found some friends whom I endear to. I guess that’s when you can finally call a place home and settle down. My love for LA will come soon enough …

With this, I humbly sign off—wishing everyone, as the message say, “May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”


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