Dear L.A., Goodbye I Love You

Los Angels, I’m leaving. I know this can’t come as a surprise, I’ve spent most of this summer as far as possible from you, in search of some kind of perspective on why I’m so unhappy when we’re together.

It’s not that I hate you, though there is so much to hate: the way your smog coats my skin on hot summer days; the endless grinding turgid traffic that makes getting from Silver Lake to LAX a feat worthy of Greek poetry; the toxic presence of would be starlets with too perfect teeth and scientifically calculated smiles; and your boundless dystopian sprawl.

The truth is I’m still see the charm in you; your mysteries, and your opportunities, and picture perfect sunsets—every evening, like clockwork—the way they never fail to catch at my heart. I love your Echo Park restaurants, and your Silver Lake bars. I love the sheer volume of talented working artists who drive your streets.

I love you, even though there is no True North to you, no guiding star.  You’re all facade and illusion. I love you, even if you can’t love anybody.

It’s just that you’ve broken my heart so many times. You’ve played host to most of the worst days of my life—break ups and break downs, and worse. Once I looked at you and saw all the ways I could make you better, all the places I could leave my mark. Now everywhere I look i see bitter regret and broken promises, old wounds and missed opportunities. The ghosts of my failures haunt every corner of you.

But I never give you enough credit for the shape i’ve taken.

San Francisco taught me how to trust, but you taught me how to be wary. San Francisco added depth, while you polished me and sharpened my edges. San Francisco showed me how to become the man I want to be, but only because first you killed the boy I was.

I’ve spent the better part of the last twelve years bouncing back and for between the two of you, learning your lessons, becoming a man. But now it’s time for me to be brave enough to strike out on my own, find new lessons, and new teachers to teach them.

I’m moving to Atlanta. I’m going to take the things you taught me, and I’m going to do some good. But this isn’t the end of you and me I’ll be back some day, and I know you’ll welcome me in with open arms and cruel lessons, just like you always do.

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