Moving. It’s not like college where every year I had to pack up my stuff and change dorms. Ship heavy sweaters back to California and rip the posters off the walls. I’m an adult now, but I find myself in a similar spot.
We found a lovely house in a neighborhood of LA called Highland Park. My Mom gasped when I told her I was considering moving there, as did my Aunt Janet, who is an evangelical Westsider.
They’ve lived in LA for more than forty years each, and they’ve seen the best and worst of what it has to offer. They’ve witnessed the neighborhoods transition and transform. The borders of Korea town extend to absorb my Dad’s Mid-Wilshire office, young college grads moving into Park La Brea once the longtime elderly residents … expire.
Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities around. We have the largest Korean community outside of Seoul, the largest Iranian community outside of Tehran, the largest Jewish community outside of … New York. But LA’s diverse residents are not as one; we are highly fragmented and segmented into identity-marked geographic puzzle pieces.
As with any large city, LA continually experiences gentrification, a fancy multisyllabic word which basically means young artists with liberal arts degrees move into a neighborhood for the low rent. Then, an Urban Outfitters will spring from the pavement, and the rent begins to climb as the neighborhood becomes “safer.”
As someone who studied race, class, and gender with a critical eye, I reject the notions of “safe” and “good” neighborhoods and what they imply. Yes, I agree crime is not desirable and safety is preferred. But, in a world where we erect gate after gate around us until we can no longer let anyone in, I want to remember that we are all connected and we are all exposed.
I’m moving to Highland Park, and have recently been told by my relatives they hear it’s “up-and-coming,” so they are softening to the idea. Now they think I’m hip. Up where and coming to what, I don’t know. But no matter; I’ll just plant my front-yard garden and try to enjoy the sunshine and space in my new home.