Friday, March 23, 2012

A Trip to the Playground

This is a draft I wrote here last fall and never finished: 

I went back to LA this weekend.

(I feel like I forgot to tell you all so much about LA. I moved there just about a year ago, and moved back to the Bay Area nine months later. It was not at all what I expected--so much better, mostly--

The most surprising thing about LA was, after nine months, how much I liked it there--I fully believe that moving north to my family, my friends, my cat, and a pitch-perfect writing job (with income!) was the obvious right choice, but I also think LA will always mean a little bit of fun and magic to me.

I've long thought that my ability to prioritize the fun of LA over the soul-sucking drudgery of LA was directly related to my loosey-goosey relationship with supporting myself through the industry. I was poor there, interning part-time for a production company and teaching SAT prep courses to pay the bills, but I had it pretty good. I worked on a major lot; my production company bosses were real, working producers and treated me like a person; I didn't become an overnight success, but I wasn't hating life in hopes of landing my dream job, either.  It wasn't sustainable--in fact, my job in San Francisco surfaced just as the "human happiness vs. professional sacrifice" conversation was coming to a head--but I was able to live there and work there without succumbing to my very worst fear: sacrificing my professional youth for a professional future that wouldn't happen.

Now, LA is like the Land of Zero Responsibility: I go there and I have friends, and memories, and places I love--but I have no obligation.

It was strange and exciting going back. I have the hardest time believing I was there for so long--I have far too many memories

Reading this now, even unfinished and with a nonsensical final phrase, I love it. It's all the things I always want to say about LA. It's the truth about a short, weird period in my life, and I'm glad I was able to get it down somewhere.

I visited LA again a couple of weekends ago and felt the same way about it. A lot of people have terrible, soul-deadening experiences there, and maybe it would have gotten to me eventually, but as it is, the LA of my memory is mostly a land of the golden hour, of fire pits on the beach, of sangria in mason jars, of late-night pie (or French toast sandwiches with chocolate, peanut butter, and bananas) with friends, of sleeping late and floating in the pool with a book. Especially now that my responsibilities lie elsewhere, LA is a playground. It's nice to have a playground, especially one where the other kids are nice and we sometimes watch Downton Abbey together in our jammies.

Again, I'm not sorry I left. My job here is about a thousand percent better--weirder and more fun--than ninety-nine percent of the jobs I could have gotten in Hollywood. That's what we call a lot percent better. Here, I have people. I have a cat. I have a church that loves me. I have an apartment of my very own, which I will someday decorate like an adult. Here is great. Here is now. Here is within a half-day's drive of the playground, which is also nice.

Let's do lunch, LA. I'll have my people call your people.