Dear LA, I’ll love you when I’m gone

Rachel Chistyakov

Voices Editor

“There was a song I heard when I was in Los Angeles by a local group. The song was called ‘Los Angeles’ and the words and images were so harsh and bitter that the song would reverberate in my mind for days…The images I had were of people being driven mad by living in the city. Images of parents who were so hungry and unfulfilled that they ate their own children. Images of people, teenagers my own age, looking up from the asphalt and being blinded by the sun. These images stayed with me even after I left the city. Images so violent and malicious that they seemed to be my only point of reference for a long time afterwards. After I left.”Less Than Zero, Bret Easton Ellis.

In a few months, I’m going to leave Los Angeles and move to Boston, Massachusetts. I have always been very passive about this move, not giving it much thought. Only recently have I come face-to-face with the unavoidable fact that I am leaving the city I was born and raised in. My days here are limited. After I end school on March 30, my time in LA will almost be over. During spring break, I am visiting Boston University by myself for the first time and attending Coachella with half of my senior class. I am then going on March of the Living with thousands of other Jewish seniors from around the world. I am staying an extra two weeks for a long-awaited Tiferet return trip. And then I come back to LA to graduate, before I spend two weeks in Russia with my family, possibly have a summer job, try out an internship and then find myself back on a plane to Boston.

I am getting anxious. I am nervously counting down the days until I have to leave, again. I am scared – scared for myself, for the relationships I have built here, for the person I have been for the past 18 years. I am scared I will change or forget the incredible memories I have had here with my best friends and my family.

I am also scared because, for the longest time, I have been viewing the city of Los Angeles through dark goggles. I have only seen the traffic, the dirt, the overly tan models and actresses with their rude attitudes, the rush that everyone is in and the expensive clothes and food. I have seen the divide between the valley and the city, the city and Hollywood, the valley and the deep valley and so on. Since ninth grade I have wanted to leave LA for something foreign, something on the East Coast, away from the sun and the humidity. Naturally, I chose a place the polar opposite of LA to spend my next four years.

And I am scared that, once I leave, this negative view will fade and will be replaced with acute nostalgia. Perhaps one day I will miss the traffic that is always plaguing the 405 freeway or the dozens of people who tell me to go outside and tan on a weekly basis. Maybe I will miss the waitresses who tell me to stop ordering salads and perhaps order a hamburger instead so I can “put some more meat on my bones, Jesus Christ.” Maybe I will miss the bipolar weather and the mediocre food served at Sunset Plaza. Maybe I will miss seeing every housewife in my gated community walking their Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus around the block and the yappy sound of their Pomeranian puppies. But would that make me so homesick that I would consider transferring to a college in LA?

I think, and hope, that it will not. Yes, there are a lot of things I will miss about Los Angeles, but that does not mean I should miss out on an experience living away for a while. In order to miss something that has always been there, I need to be kept away from it for a while; otherwise, how can I ever appreciate it?

My family first moved to Galveston, Texas after they escaped the Soviet Union. However, Galveston didn’t display to them their concept of the “American dream” – all they saw around them was desert. So they packed their children and their bags and drove to Los Angeles, California, a city that has streets paved with palm trees and citrus trees growing around every corner. This, my dad told me, was their American dream.

Maybe for now, my American dream is in Boston. Maybe in four years, it’ll be in New York, Chicago or back at Los Angeles. All I know is that I have less than four months left in Los Angeles and I am only now starting to appreciate my hometown.

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