March 25, 2011

Under My Rock

I have a friend who never knows pop songs til months after their chart peak, rarely sees movies until they hit cable TV, and refuses to sign up for Twitter, preferring to remain blissfully ignorant of today's trending hashtags. I always tell her she's living under a rock.

But now that I've moved to LA, refused to get a TV, spent my days in a windowless office digging deeply into metrics and data analysis, I realize: I, too, am now living under a rock.

I always used to criticize New Yorkers - especially New York City-based marketers - for thinking the rest of the country was like The Big Apple, because somehow I'd managed to hold onto my humble Middle American roots. I could always remember that the rest of the world wasn't open until 4 a.m., that other people in other places actually drove and listened to the radio and shopped at Wal-Mart.

And now I'm one of those people. Except I'm in Southern California, with (mostly) idyllic weather, exposure to sunlight, ethnic diversity, gorgeous people, delicious food, and easily accessible mountains and canyons.

What? The rest of the world isn't like this?

Oh, it's snowing there? Still?

What do you mean I'm calling too late? It's only 9! (Ohhhh it's midnight where you are.)

Where is New York again?

I don't know why or how I've acclimated so easily to Los Angeles, an admittedly sprawling, overwhelming, hidden city that's just as metropolitan and cosmopolitan as New York. But whereas it took me a good three years after my arrival for New York City to feel like home, it took me days, maybe hours, to start calling Los Angeles (or, more specifically, Beverly Hills) home. Maybe it's how welcoming this city has felt to me, and how its residents, two months later, still greet me with a "welcome home." Or maybe my inner New Yorker just needed to accelerate the assimilation process, refusing to allow for any transitional period. I scoff when people ask me if I'm here on a trial basis. "No," I say. "I have a job. I signed a lease. I am here now."

And I've hit the ground running. Compared to most other Angelenos and Californians, I am, as they tell me, "hardcore" for all the parties, concerts, hikes, tours, and dinners I've already done. But it doesn't feel that way. Since moving here, I've retained my lifelong phobia of missing out on something - anything - but the pressure I feel is completely internalized. I stress myself out as little or as much as I want to. The external forces - the people around me, the mountains and the canyons - are just fine with me either way. They'll be here when I'm ready for them, whether that's tonight, next week, next month or next year.

So while I may be living in my own little world here in LA, I am a master explorer of that world, surpassing most of my neighbors' knowledge of local eats, hidden treasures, cultural events and secret spots. My rock is vast and varied, huge and hulking, rough and imposing. But it is my rock right now, and I'm happy to examine its fossils and crevices and moss, its sunbaked top and its clammy, shadowy underbelly.

Maybe I'll get a TV one day. But I lived an entire childhood raised by television, my only source of insight into the outside world. I think it's time I continue my break from drug-addled celebrity antics, cholesterol-raising cooking demonstrations, and unrealistically swift romantic connections and figure out what reality really is. New York it is not. It may not be Southern California either, but it's a nice alternate reality that's similar enough to NYC in good ways, and dissimilar to NYC in some really really good ways.

Related Reading:
Trying to Unhook Myself
Not Road-Weary Yet

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