Today's word is "Armpit"
L.A. is an easy city to hate. Lots of people do it. I think part of it is that there is so much obviously, glaringly beautiful about L.A., and so much that is so sickeningly, overwhelmingly awful as well. All in the same huge package. Los Angeles represents everything we hate about being Americans while also demonstrating everything we hope for- prosperity, beauty, warmth, the sparkling sun glinting off endless waves.
But I miss it. No matter how many veterans come back and tell me that L.A. is the armpit of the world, a vast wasteland of superficial, horrifying excess, I will always remember L.A. as I saw it when I was very young. How the warmth of the sun seemed to hold me close and tenderly as I stood in the ocean at Leo Carillo. The way the colors of everything around me seemed intensified by heat and sunshine. The exotic, intriguing smells of every possible kind of food that wafted into the car windows as we drove through neighborhoods unlike anything back home in Albuquerque, Minnesota, Colorado.
I saw L.A. at its worst once, as columns of smoke rose from Watts during a poorly planned family vacation in 1992. We made the most of it, we ventured into the city, we sunned on beaches and tried hard to put as much space in our minds between Malibu and the places on the news... Koreatown... South Normandie... Vernon and Western.
There were plenty of moments when it wasn't hard. Same city, different worlds.
When I turned 18 I wanted nothing more than to somehow find myself living an adult kind of life in Los Angeles. I would look for jobs there, houses, fantasizing about what it would be like to leave my small town life for The California Dream. I long ago realized the competition, the need to be blond and botoxed, the expense was not in alignment with what I really needed and wanted. But still, especially on days like today, my mind goes back to the coast. To swimming pools and tucked-away corners of strip malls where so many treasures can be found. To the smell of exhaust and salty air. And I miss it, for everything good and bad it can be.