I opened my inbox after Labor Day weekend and found my first assignment at my new internship. My supervisor/editor asked that I write about my first impressions of LA and told me we'd meet one on one to talk about the assignment, my responsibilities for the semester, and my goals for it. Let me tell you, I was PUMPED. This was the exact kind of assignment I didn't know I needed until it was just there, in my inbox. My editor said that she had no intention of publishing the free-write, but it was meant for me to reflect on at the end of the semester. After I wrote it, I decided I wanted to publish it here. Below, you'll see the prompt and a glimpse into my mind after moving here . . .
Prompt: At this moment in time, what or who is Los Angeles for you? Both of you are new to LA. I'd like you to jot down your preconceived notions and first impressions of the City of Angels. Whether you choose to write in first, second or third person, past or present tense, in journalistic reporting style or creative prose is entirely up to you. Feel free to reference movies, books, that taco you ate yesterday, Kendrick's most recent album, Instagram bloggers, a painting at the Met in New York, a comment your grandpa made in 2008 or a bad smell you caught a whiff of on the corner of Sunset and La Brea... Anything goes. Have fun with it. Let your personality shine. Do not overthink it. Nothing is "too long" or "too weird."
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“I don’t want to be here.” No, “I can’t be here.” The brutally honest thoughts that went through my mind about an hour after landing at LAX.
I knew spending a semester in Los Angeles would be trying on my anxiety and it would challenge me professionally and personally, but I had not even been here an hour unless you count the time I was flying over California, looking down at a foreign landscape. Prior to leaving Boston, I absorbed LA vlogs like a sponge, memorizing the day to day lives of YouTubers like Claudia Sulewski, Meghan Rienks, and so on. I convinced myself that despite my very low budget, I would hit all of the brunch places they did and try a matcha latte, risking $6 on something that I may want to spit out seconds later. I decided that I’d shop on Melrose and finally get my hands on the “But first, coffee” sleeve at Alfred’s Coffee. Are you envisioning what my new LA lifestyle would look like? You understand, right? If you are having trouble picturing it, I suggest opening up a new tab and searching the aforementioned YouTube influencers.
Now that you know my expectations for a flawless move-in day and integration into LA, here is what actually happened when I stepped outside, looked up and the Hollywood sign, and thought to myself, “I live here now.”
I cried. Maybe too much, but it felt like just the right amount to unleash all of the fear and anticipation I had felt up until boarding my plane in Boston. The crying started when I plopped down in the rental car that my Dad, brother, and I would trek around in for the next few days. As my dad drove around in search of a restaurant, I wept at even the thought of Boston. Cue the “I don’t want to be here,” thoughts and the even more devastating, “I can’t do this.”
I was hoping that LA would have me glistening, either from a glowy tan from the beach or a sweaty hike, not from tear stained cheeks, but there I was.
I’m happy to report that I haven’t cried since that first day. I’m also happy to report that I did shop on Melrose, specifically, I went to the Melrose Trading Post, a Sunday flea market that hooked me up with a new pair of sunglasses and two cute little succulents. I haven’t made my way to Alfred’s Coffee or sat down to an Instagram worthy brunch, but I did go to the beach and get that glowy tan, well, as tan as a ivory skinned east coaster can get.
I stuck my toes in the sand, I swam in the Pacific Ocean for the first time, I saw Adrienne Bailon from The Cheetah Girls at Target, I snapped a photo of Hugh Laurie’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I sat in traffic on the freeway, and most importantly, I stood in the warm air during a heat wave and soaked it all in. I live here now.