The Los Angeles Vortex

Los Angeles is a weird place.  Beautiful, but weird.

The weather is always warm.  There’s a breeze, but it’s rarely windy.  It’s sunny every day.  It hardly ever rains.  Even a cloudy day is unusual.  It doesn’t get humid, and mosquitoes aren’t a thing.  Weather-wise, Los Angeles is paradise.  But this utopian climate comes at the cost of your internal clock.

I grew up in mid-Missouri, where you get the best and the worst of every season.  The summer temperatures would break into the low hundreds, and it snowed at least a few times every winter.  In the bad winters we’d see negative numbers.  We got rain, wind, hail, sleet, ice, even tornadoes (yes, a tornado actually flattened an entire street my senior year of high school).  We were blessed and cursed with a little bit of everything.

Then I moved to LA.  I tell people all the time that I’m a lizard because I can’t produce my own body heat – I have to absorb it from my environment.  I was happy to leave behind 22 years of runny noses, shivering, wearing frumpy sweaters when everyone else is in shorts, and condescending comments of “It’s not that cold.”  I raced into the arms of LA, the land of eternal sunshine.

I arrived at the beginning of September, still riding the high of three months of summer.  That year was a sweltering September in the Valley, with highs in the hundreds for weeks.  So, naturally, that month felt like an extension of summer.  The month after that was less suffocating, but still warm and sunny.  And so was the month after that.  And the month after that…

Compound this anomaly of nature with the fact that this was the first year in my life where I wasn’t returning to school in the fall.  My existence began to feel like one long summer break.  But the hustle of trying to make a living as an actor kept reminding me that this isn’t a break – this is forever.  This is the rest of your life.

In October I left the city at the last minute to catch a film festival in New York.  When my flight was getting close to landing, I looked out the window at the forest below.  I was breath-taken by the view; the trees were a bright blend of red, orange, and yellow.  I was also genuinely surprised – I had forgotten that it’s fall, that this is the time when leaves change and temperatures drop and people start making plans to visit their families.  I nearly cried at the realization; not because I romanticize fall weather, but because I had lost track of how much time had passed since I had moved away.  I was overcome with the idea that time was ticking away, that the rest of the world was moving on without me, while I was stuck in this void removed from space and time.

When you live in Los Angeles, it’s so easy for that to become your whole world.  It’s a microcosm of sorts, and you get wrapped up in the events in LA, news in LA, jobs in LA, forgetting that there’s a world outside it moving at an entirely different pace.  When the sun is always shining, time stands still.

As I write this, it’s a full year later.  I’m acclimated AF, and I’m even more of a weenie about being cold than I used to be.  But I know how to find true north in the vortex.  I notice the precious few deciduous trees, see when they change color, look to them for clues about the season.  I feel the subtle shifts in temperature.  I pay attention to national news (or at least I try to).  I take any excuse I can to step out of the city and see somewhere new.  Los Angeles may be timeless, but we mortals must find a way to keep moving forward.

Questions I Have for Los Angeles

Why don’t people here recycle?  If you’re going to pretend to care about the environment, you need to at least recycle.

Why do you put “the” before every freeway number?  And why do I feel the need to conform to that?

Why are there no mailboxes in the valley?

Why is LA obsessed with juice?  Why are there specialty bars that serve only juice?  And why are they $12 per glass?

Why are there so many vegans here?

Why do maps of LA cut off at Hollywood Hills?  You know Los Angeles city limits extend all the way up to Sylmar, right?

While I’m at it, why the hell are city limits like this?

map_los_angeles

Seriously, wtf even is that?

Why is there an afternoon rush hour but no morning rush hour on Saturdays?

Why is everyone obsessed with In-N-Out?  Why is it every time I drive past an In-N-Out, the line for the drive-thru is so long that it wraps around the entire building and extends halfway down the street and obstructs traffic?  Doesn’t waiting over an hour defeat the purpose of using the drive-thru anyway?  I mean it’s a good burger, but it’s just a burger.

Why are people so flaky when you’re trying to make plans?

california-plate-with-heart

Why is a heart symbol an actual character you can actually have on your license plate?  Are children allowed to drive here?  If so that would explain a lot.

Why don’t we have a decent public transit system?  This is the second largest city in the nation.  Get with the times.

Why is there a public park in Calabasas with ASTROTURF at the entrance?  Isn’t the whole point of going to a park to get in touch with nature?  Does anyone care about authenticity?

Why does everyone have multiple part-time jobs instead of one full-time job, even people who aren’t in the entertainment industry?

Why is the weather always beautiful?

When are we going to run out of water?

In spite of all these things, why do I love this city so much?  Why can’t I see myself anywhere else?