In the past few days I’ve been asked, What is the draw for you? This from Los Angeles residents perhaps needing a reminder themselves of the good that exists when you can finally pull off the 405 and ignore the filmy layer of smog that dulls the view on the horizon.
At one point the draw had dried up. This is the place I left twenty years ago, feeling a sense of elation in escaping what I’d come to see as a hostile, flaky city. I left a budding law career behind as well. At thirty, it was time to return to Canada and find a new path.
To my surprise, L.A. pulled me back, again and again. I returned once every few years and that evolved into a few times each year. For the past two summers, I’ve immersed myself in Southern California’s warped sense of reality. And I’ve loved it all the more.
This has become a place of comfort. I think much of it has to do with Los Angeles being where I fully came out and where I lived most openly as a gay man. I had an earring in the left or right lobe—can’t tell anymore—and a pink triangle bumper sticker on my Accord. I felt empowerment marching in the streets in protest of Governor Pete Wilson’s veto of AB 101 and volunteering with AIDS Project Los Angeles. This is where I fell in love. Twice.
I found myself in L.A.
Somehow I left this place beaten down and taking for granted the freedoms that had come. A generation later, I am lost again. I’d like to think I have pulled myself up from the darkest times of this past spring, but all this California sunshine can offer a false sense of enlightenment. At worst, the past five weeks have served as a reprieve. The shopping, the dining, the socializing and the writing while sipping $6 cold brew and pour-over coffees have fused into a wonderful vacation—temporary invigoration and inspiration. Still, I’d like to think more positively. Maybe I can ride this high a while until I am able to genuinely fortify myself with a stronger, healthier outlook. It helps that I have a couple of things to look forward to, but I also have a great deal of work ahead of me.
I feel refreshed but it’s also scary to leave again. Today, I will drive by the yoga studios and car washes, gazing up at the palm trees and blue skies while idling at the stubbornly long red lights on Lincoln Boulevard. I will enjoy a final vegan/vegetarian dinner out. I will work out at a local gym alongside a few model/actor/caterers. I will slowly breathe in the smoggy, marine air as I walk on the beach once more. I’m going to stay here as long as I can. In the moment.
Tomorrow will have to wait.