Recently a friend asked how close I lived to Marina Del Rey.
Me: Uh, an hour. Without traffic.
We moved to Orange County, did I not tell you?
Friend: Wait what? When?
Oh just…it was only…it was last July.
It’s been eleven months and I’m still not telling people. It’s like I’m dating someone who is super hot but dumb.
The idea behind the move was that it was maybe time to settle down a bit. That we were nearing our thirties (super old) and thinking about a family (all current joys will cease) and it was time to leave the hustle of L.A. for the beautiful, boring suburbia that lies beyond the Orange Curtain.
At first I said, it’s just temporary! And it was. But I really settled into that word — “temporary” — telling myself we would never live here long term. We were city people! We went to museums! I mean, sometimes. We sometimes went to the museums and ate the food and saw the movies that hit theaters a week earlier in our neighborhood than the rest of the nation. But whether we actually did those city things or not, we were cultured through osmosis.
After I found not one but two (!) possible OC jobs in offices on the beach, I gave up both for a gig in DTLA. And now I drive an hour both ways on the dusty 5 freeway behind behemoth semi-trucks to a warehouse off Alameda that I would not walk around alone at night. It’s a good job, and I like the work. But it was also the city fix I needed when temporary became permanent.
I tell myself I am still an Angeleno – I can access city life whenever I want, I have the same friends. And then I meet up with said friends after work and am livid at the traffic. I am enraged at the existence of a parking meter and I grimace at the questionable smells wafting up from sewers along the cracking streets. I go floating down to my ocean-side bubble and must resist admitting that what I feel is deep relief.
I don’t want this change to happen, this settling into some idea of suburban life. I am scared of it – of my dwindling tolerance for city grit, of the possibility that I may be getting boringer.
I don’t care to live in Surftown, U.S.A. I don’t need famous shopping malls. I am dead on the inside as evidenced by being immune to the “happiest place on earth.”
I don’t tell people I live here, and yet it’s becoming home.
I don’t know what that means.