The Los Angeles Experiance

Living in Los Angeles has been quite an experience. It’s the places of all places. It’s one of the top 3 cities in America. The entertainment industry is here, the rich and famous are here, and all dreams are welcome here. People look at Los Angeles with stars in their eyes. They come and Los Angeles never lets go.

You figure every young person would love to be able to fulfill his or her dream of moving here. That’s what I did at 24. I lost my job in Virginia and was living off unemployment for 6 months. Not where I wanted to be at 23. I began working on a start up business with my best friend at the time and it gave us the courage to pursue the ambition and move out to LA together. I never thought I would end up in Los Angeles, and after visiting it in 2014 didn’t ever desire to live here. But the prospect of making something myself, and moving to a huge city to see how all kinds of people live really excited me! So, I packed up everything, and with no job, or place to live I drove 2,600 miles across the country over 5 days.

When I arrive in Los Angeles I was sick to my stomach and overwhelmed. I went from a town of 224,000 people to a town with 4 Million people. Everything smelled different, and everything was looked at differently. There was a whole group of people I didn’t know much about here, and it was all so large and intimidating, and expensive. I’ll never forget going to a Chipotle and they had a keypad locks on their bathroom door. You could only get the code to it on a receipt from ordering your food. I knew I was somewhere big.

Looking for an apartment was scary as heck because I didn’t know any of the areas. My biggest fear was living in a neighborhood run by an active gang. I had never been anywhere that had legit gangs and I felt I had to consider that here. Everyone lives on top of each other, and there is no space for anything. People live in little cottages other people build next to their garages on their driveways. And it’s all astonishingly expensive. You pay to park everywhere, and the pay system is your charged $x per 15-20 minutes.  So you better hope your place has parking provided.

Everything people say about the traffic out here is true. Have an hour lunch break from work? Not enough time to get to and from McDonalds and eat it. God forbid you’re working and looking for another job, there is no time to travel for interviews during the week in a reasonable amount of time from 7am-2pm. Rush hour is 4:30pm-7: 30pm with no accidents. 14 miles is 45min, 35 miles is an hour and a half. You get weirdly used to it quickly.

All of this is going on and my head is swimming. When you move your life has to start over. You don’t know anyone to get into a cool job. You don’t have friends to support your emotional state. You don’t have a lover to comfort you. You don’t know where to get your groceries, and you don’t know how to pick a good doctor if you can even afford one. In LA that feeling of being lost is amplified by a million.  So needless to say it was hard. I think people get all wrapped up in the idea of coming here as being glamorous, you’re going to see famous people [and you will] and it’s all going to look like an Abercrombie Commercial [and sometimes it does] but it’s so much harder than that if you’re not ready or it’s not you to begin with.

Los Angeles is broken up into a bunch of neighborhoods. People don’t generally leave those neighborhoods because you don’t need to. Everything you need is there. You have North Hollywood – up by Burbank, Van Nyes and Studio City. That’s the suburbs. It’s quiet and slower up there. It’s also pretty classic Hollywood. Then you go south and you have East and West Hollywood. The Sunset Strip and Hollywood Blvd. oh gosh what a hot mess. All tourism is there at all times. Think of it like a Mytle Beach type pier but with legitimate land marks and talk show studios. It’s a weird mix of normal entertainment and street performers trying to get a fast one on you. Hollywood and Vine is not so glamorous either. I just don’t get it. Then you have Down Town LA, which is really a lot of tall bank buildings and then the fashion warehouse district. I worked down there the first 4 months of living here – yikes- Little Tokyo is down there too. It truly is little but it’s also my happy place in this city. Then you have Glendale and Silver Lake that are nestles around the top of the Down Town LA Traffic loop. Nice wealthy young people live over there. It’s a place all aspire to be. Then you head more west to Santa Monica, Malibu and The Pacific Highway. All are as glamorous as you’d imagine. But still underwhelming. Malibu is the most low key place ever. Impressive views and I don’t understand where they run their errands because there’s nothing around. Also all the famous people live in the Malibu hills. You can’t even drive up there for fun. It’s gated. Finally Venice Beach. I envy that town. Always having fun, rooftop parties, and they’re all in bed by like 10!  What a colorful and artistic place. You can spray paint on walls there with no consequence.  It is also the best example of people living on top of one another though.

When I got to Los Angeles, I landed in Culver City, home of Sony Entertainment. It’s a nice little part of town.  It’s the last nice city as south of LA as you can get before hitting the airport and Inglewood/Compton area.  When I moved in I immediately felt welcomed by all my neighbors - who I also suspected where drug dealers. I didn’t really care about that, they knew me by name and said hello every time and really helped when our cat went missing.  My rent still has my eyeballs turning to pinwheels every month I have to pay it. It’s so much! But that’s the nature of the beast here.

I have seen AMAZING things here. I’ve tested as an artist assistant for a DC Comic inker. I’ve danced with Die Antwoord at their record release party that I some how got into for free. I’ve meet my queen Elvira Mistress of the Dark. I've met David Duchovny who is as charming as ever. I’ve seen Noel Fielding’s weird comedy show. I’ve met my favorite Youtubers Rhett and Link at that weird comedy show. I’ve met people with amazing and impressive jobs I wish I had. I’ve fallen asleep on the beach; I’ve hiked mountains and seen the Pacific Ocean, The Hollywood sign, and the Down Town skyline all in one pan of sight. I’ve been to the reptile expo Super Show. I’ve seen great comedians. I’ve met with Sony executives. I’ve accidentally driven by Warner Bros. Nickelodeon studios and Cartoon Network like it’s no big deal?! I’ve sold artwork in a Melrose Ave store.  I have opportunities to see Jeff Goldblume play piano iat his favorite piano bar - just because he's Jeff Golblume. I have a chance to take figure drawing at Tit Mouse Studios. I can go see a movie at the theater the Oscars are held in. I've been to Las Vegas 3 times because it's just right over there!  And yet, I still ask myself “is this where I want to be?”
            What a wild question to ask following those experiences. But it’s true.  All of this sounds great. And I’ve learned a lot about my wants and desires. I’ve adapted in ways that I haven’t even mentioned! Overcoming some insane stuff. That business I mentioned is closed! I had to hear about it from the dang internet vs my partners mouth. I had to find out what I wanted more than ever. I’ve lost and quit more jobs this year than I have my whole life. Looking for ‘the right thing’. It’s hard to blindly try and try and try in a place like this,a place so fast and big. I still never anticipated being in alone. I am alone here, at least in regards to what I’d like my life to be like.  I’m evaluating a lot of things. The major thing I’ve learned though is not to get caught up in what you think you’re supposed to want. Have the courage to listen to what you actually want. Weirdly enough, that’s a harder thing to hear with in you. I would say a majority of my LA experience is me trying the things I think I am supposed to want. And I don’t know if I actually want them.

So I will leave that post here. Ponder.

 

What do I actually want?

 

I’ll update that thought in a few months.

 

-Lauren  

Lauren VersinoComment