Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Monday, February 21, 2005

A Sense of Place

My friend Tamar wants to leave LA. A commenter on her blog says that LA is not an easy place for a "thinking person to feel at home." My hackles rise.

It's not the first time, nor will it be the last. I've had countless discussions or arguments with friends and acquaintances over the same thing, the same questioning of sanity or intelligence or what-have-you based on where I've chosen to live.

I don't live in the LA that so many people refer to with derision and scorn and a haughty "I'm better than you because of where I live." For one thing, I'm not in anything even resembling 'entertainment.' And here's a newsflash for ya: the overwhelming majority of the people I know right now are just like me.

Which is not to say that LA isn't full of entertainment folk. We live here because Baroy IS in "the business." Many of the trials and tribulations of our lives revolve around that business, and the way it treats people. But my experience of LA, especially these last nine or so years, when we've moved to places not frequented as much by industry folk, is not about a place that revolves around anything in particular, other than life and living it.

Do not get me wrong. LA is not my dream home. Neither was New York. The only place I've ever felt truly passionate about was Scotland, where I spent a wonderful year-out-of-time. And I'm sure it was that out-of-timeness that created the passion.

There are places I think I'd rather live than here, from an entirely place-driven point of view. I liked Seattle, though I've spent all of three days there in an entire lifetime of days thus far, not to mention that if I really do have a seasonal affective disorder component to my depressions, going to a place where there's more cloud cover than sun might not be the best idea. I used to have this entire fantasy about living in Boulder, Colorado, right there in the foothills of the Rockies, amidst all the liberals and the still-hippies and the people who don't wear makeup and would thus not make me feel like such a freak for not wearing any myself. Except, you know. I hate cold. Might be a problem.

Really, though, the main reason I get so bent out of shape when people diss this place where I live is because I literally can't relate to the ways in which many people become enmeshed in the where of living, especially in terms of intangibles like 'culture' and 'energy' and the like. Which is not to say that I think people who do care about such things are somehow wrong or misguided. Just that those are issues that don't make the cut onto my list of 'what I want from where I live.'

What do I want from where I live? I want a sense of community, people with whom I can get along. And it doesn't have to be a glut of people. Maybe it's true that 9 out of every 10 Angelenos is someone I wouldn't necessarily feel connected to. But I don't care. I don't need that many people in my community. I have a great group of friends. Every now and again, a new person comes into my life, and if we click, it's wonderful. If we don't, well, I don't notice any gaping holes in my life, you know?

I care about the fact that my kids have space to run around, so when we looked to buy this time, we looked for a big backyard, and then lucked upon a deadend street to throw into the bargain, so that not only do they get to run around in the back, but they scampuer up and down the block whenever there's daylight to scamper to. I care that they have other kids to play with. I care that they have good schools to go to. They do. Is that true of much of this city? No. Does that matter to me, since I've found a place where it is true? Of course not.

I don't know why place doesn't matter quite so much to me as it seems to to so many other people. I wonder if its part of the same emotional deficit in me--some vague hole created in some vague way by something in my childhood I suppose--as the way in which people come into and out of my life. This is for sure a different post altogether, but suffice it to say that I am the type of person for whom an ex-boyfriend was never a continuing friendship, and who keeps in only the slightest of touch with people who were absolutely central to my life in its past incarnations.

So it is with place. Could I live elsewhere? Sure, if it met my basic needs. I could live almost anywhere and be happy. And dissatisfied. And unfulfilled. And content.

Just like I am here.

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