As my 20s came to an end, my increasingly positive feelings about Los Angeles took me by surprise. These were not feelings that I had hoped or planned for. But here I was, finding myself appreciating and developing a sense of loyalty to a city for which I had not given a second thought before moving here for grad school.
For much of my life, growing up a few hours north of LA (save for brief stints in both the Midwest and Pacific Northwest), I grew to love the state of California, but LA was not the reason.
I arrived in LA in early September 2009 when the worst of the summer heat was nothing to joke about. Yet September held the promise of a gorgeous and temperate late fall and winter . . . when the rest of the country would go into hibernation mode. I remember noticing the beauty of the LA desert — so different than the familiar scape of my hometown a few hours north. The close proximity of the desert to the ocean struck me; these two very different but beautiful natural scapes existed side by side in their own uniqueness. I was and still am caught up by the beauty of the varying dusty greens and other muted colors of succulents that dot the landscape—so much so that my wedding ended up having a succulent theme.
Much of my fondness for LA has to do with the way the events that took place here shaped me as a person in the second half of my twenties. When I arrived here, at twenty-four, I thought a lot of my opinions were cemented, but LA became the place where I was challenged to grow and broaden my perspectives of myself and other people.
In this city my boss (and mentor) challenged me to think about my faith and its contribution to the world in a new way. This same boss introduced his employees not only to LA’s beauty and cultural hotspots such as Pasadena City Hall, the downtown cathedral, downtown courthouse, and Olvera Street, but also to another side of the city: Watts, El Monte, and McArthur Park. Rich and poor, old and young, healthy and sick . . . LA has it all. How easy it is to get comfortable in our little corner of the world and forget that within the stretch of a few miles, neighbors live vastly different lives.
In this city I earned my graduate degree, finding myself very interested in my psychology classes. After graduating however, I struggled to discern the next steps in my career path, unsure whether my career trajectory was headed in a good direction for me. It caused me to think hard about how much power a career has to define one as a person. There is so much more to life than a career. I am beginning to see that my path of uncertainty has been an instructive one. It has caused me to reexamine the value I place on my career path and reconsider what kind of contribution I can make to the world.
In this city some very important and formative friends have come into my life. I lived through my mid-to-late twenties with roommates and classmates who remain close friends. I also became part of a new kind of church community that has been transformative in a number of different ways.
In this city I experienced and learned from both good times and heartbreak. I am still learning to trust my instincts, but also admit that life has a way of surprising me when I least expect it.
In this city I met and fell in love with my now-husband . . . obviously a very important chapter of my life that could take up another whole post.
Very soon, in this city I will hold my infant son and things will never quite be the same.
I feel like I am evolving as a more honest and true version of myself here and because of that, Los Angeles, you unexpectedly hold a very special place in my heart.