Ten years ago today, I sat in traffic on Interstate 10 outside of West Covina at three in the afternoon. This, in itself, is not a momentous occasion as much as one that happens only on days that end in “y.” It was, though, my first traffic jam as an L.A. resident; on August 15, 2003, my Saturn SL2 (rest in peace to both that car and that entire company) arrived in Los Angeles, loaded with half of my worldly belongings.
This, I'm sure, is where I'm supposed to give a rundown of all the ways I've changed over that decade, reflections of one sort or another, etc., but that's all folly, really. Part of choosing one path is understanding that you'll never know what would have happened differently if you had chosen a different one. Who the hell knows what would have happened if I had decided on New York for acting, or went off to some far-flung small town to start as a radio DJ, or stayed put and tried to move up to the Washington Post.
So, instead of self-congratulations or navel-gazing (both of which I do extremely well and often, mind you), I want to say thank you:
To the Hollywood Bowl, the Greek Theatre, the Santa Monica Pier concert series and all of the other opportunities to listen to music while sitting (or dancing) under the stars.
To Los Feliz Village, Main Street in Santa Monica, Larchmont Village, downtown Culver City and the other stretches of the L.A. area that give the lie to the idea that the city isn't walkable.
To the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and, maybe as importantly, its programming from outside organizations like Film Independent.
To the subtle atmospheric differences of the beach communities, from the post-collegiate atmosphere of Redondo Beach to the luxury-on-the-sand of Malibu.
To downtown Los Angeles, and the opportunity to watch the core of a major American metropolis reinvent itself.
To Griffith, Grand and Rancho Parks, and all the other parks that taken an urban setting and make it greener (and more liveable).
And, of course, to the Stub Hub (nee Home Depot) Center in Carson, for all of the live soccer.
For the first year or so I lived in Los Angeles, I often found myself thinking about moving back to safety (both physically, after I got mugged, and emotionally). I know that it's unlikely that I'll be writing a “happy 20 year anniversary” post as well; many of my friends who have moved away or are moving away in 2013 do so in order to start a family, and hopefully that will be in the cards for me at some point. But I can say that I would not have traded this last decade for anything.
(Biggest thanks, of course, go to all of the people whom either I knew beforehand or met here, but that would take us down a maudlin path, and I haven't had nearly enough to drink.)