One year ago yesterday I arrived in Los Angeles. October 1, 2011 was a beautiful day, as most days are in L.A. We arrived at LAX late morning with our oversized luggage, and a couple of hours later were having lunch at BOA in Santa Monica, looking out at the Pacific Ocean. What a great feeling!
Some friends back in D.C. thought this move was, well, insane! After living in the nation’s capital and working for a highly reputable international development organization for many years, why was I moving to “LaLa land” of all places? What was I thinking?!
L.A.’s hardest critics are usually people who’ve either never been here or just visited briefly. They have a stereotyped image of the place –Hollywood, celebrities, money and frivolity. Nothing worthy of substance and cultural value could ever happen here. Actually, it was this kind of misconception about L.A. that inspired me to start Discovering L.A.
Having lived in California and visited L.A. many times, I knew there was much more to it than Hollywood and celebrities. I knew that besides its beautiful views of mountains and ocean, and its fabulous weather and beaches, this city had a lot to offer. L.A. has great museums, a fantastic Music Center, home to the L.A. Opera –with Placido Domingo at the helm– and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. It has prestigious universities —UCLA and USC among others–that offer academic and cultural opportunities, and a large number of think tanks. There’s also a lot of activism in L.A. on myriad issues.
And, yes, you can indulge in celebrity culture, if that’s your thing. Hang out in Hollywood and Beverly Hills long enough and you’ll eventually catch a glimpse at one of the Kardashians or a real movie star. I must confess, I often forget that Hollywood is just around the corner. And if it weren’t for the Oscars, the Golden Globe, Emmys and other award shows, I wouldn’t remember I live in the entertainment capital of the world. But I have seen my share of celebrities, in very relaxed and informal situations, mostly around Santa Monica. No big deal.
Anyway, one year later, six months of which were spent on finding, buying and remodeling a house, I have no regrets. This was not a move made on a whim. California was our first home in the US many years ago, so moving to L.A. felt more like a long-overdue homecoming than a risky adventure.