And L.A. has delivered. This place's myth of rejuvenation -- regeneration? -- is no myth. It changes you. The weather and scenery are what hit you first, freeing you from constantly worrying about what the elements will do to you. But, slowly, the rest of L.A. reveals itself. If you don't force it, if you let L.A.'s multitudes appear at their own pace, L.A. will seep inside you. It isn't about seeing stars or soaking in the sun. It's about having a daily life in this organism that is Los Angeles. The people, the topography, the industries, the culture, the weirdness, the immensity, the Mexicanness. The otherness. The bedrock belief that you live in a place where many, many things are possible. This knowledge works itself into you and alters your philosophical DNA (a little thing I like to call Wa). At some point you become conversant in Los Angeles. You can make it from Culver City to Los Feliz during rush hour in 25 minutes. You can suggest restaurants in Santa Monica. You can talk to neighbors in front of your building at midnight. At that point of conversance, Los Angeles stops seeming like a vacation. It doesn't become permanent necessarily -- that kind of thinking will get you in trouble here. But it becomes familiar; a rhythm settles into your brain.
And, one year on, there's no place I'd rather be. Conditions can improve, but I'm working on that. And I'm confident I'll succeed.
Ain't no way I'd write that last sentence a year ago.
This conversation demands a special mention about Mike and Becky Hudson, who drew to L.A. and provided me with a home and veritable family for my first few months (O.K., it was nine). I still have no clue how they put up with me for that long. It's categorical proof that they are archetypes of good.
Adequately describing that sort of generosity is difficult; paying it back is a lifelong endeavor. Many thanks, friends.
TOP FIVE INDICATORS I'M FULLY IMMERSED IN LOS ANGELES
1. Seeing Lara Flynn Boyle outside the opening of The Social and cursing the crowd for taking up parking spots on Schrader.
2. Not knowing about raging forest fires north of here until my dad told me about them.
3. Giving up coffee. (Still going strong!)
4. Buying way-too-expensive jeans.
5. Rooting for USC.