Sunday, July 02, 2006

One Year a Californian

July 2 is my one-year anniversary of arriving in California. Fifty-two weeks ago, I stumbled into Mike and Becky's place after a harrowing three-day drive from Michigan. Any pain or expenses I incurred while making the transition from the Rust Belt to Hollywood proved worthwhile. I can't imagine what my life would be like had I stayed in Michigan or Ohio, not that I'm knocking those two fine states. But for those of you who know the backstory, I needed that magical "change of scenery."

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.

4 comments:

dr. zaes said...

is it too pithy to suggest that with the country's independence celebration, you, too, dr. gaines are celebrating your independence? if you allow me to be so bold, then i will say, congratulations. we miss you in ohio, but we smile for your success in a land that few ohioans care about (let alone understand). kudos on your anniversary!

Hud said...

hats off, craigers. i was just in lansing and it said it missed you, too, and then made some smog crack...funny town that lansing. then i went to the peanut barrel with fred. he looks good.

Solari said...

He who, Hud? Fred of the Barrell?

Lawrence Everett Forbes said...

Congrats on the year anniversary there, Mr. Craig! One year, eh? What a difference it makes indeed. Another year, and you'll be what the people here call an "Angeleno." (Insert oohs and ahs here.) Whether the aforementioned mythic status will help you get from Culver City to Los Feliz during rush hour at light speed (okay -- yes I did just see "Superman") is anyone's guess, but you seem poised to find out, so...good luck -- and congrats again!