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    Posted May 3, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    City smackdown: Los Angeles love

    My LA

    I spent the first year I lived in LA hating it, the second year tolerating it. The third year I let myself like it, and I’ve been madly in love ever since.

    The first year, a guy on a plane told me the best part of LA was that it had so much nature. Another guy told me the best part was the pollution and the traffic because on those rare clear, traffic-less days, no one could appreciate their city more.

    I don’t agree with them just like I don’t agree with my friend who swears that the South Bay is peripheral, the acquaintances who think they will die if they set foot in Watts, or the friends who think the Valley is in another time zone. That’s the best thing about LA, though.

    It’s not one city; it’s a thousand cities. Everyone defines LA by their own collection of neighborhoods, people, and places. Everyone’s experience is different. Everyone’s experience is LA.

    My LA is a South Bay, Beach Cities, Watts kind of life.

    It’s being outside every day of the year—on the beach, at Disneyland, in the Getty gardens, wandering the Fashion district, eating and partying on patios & rooftops, shopping the 3rd Street Promenade, window shopping Rodeo Drive, walking the Strand, and crossing the grassy commons from my classroom to the teachers’ lounge.

    It’s walking away from a sunset over the ocean because “Hey, I live here. There’ll always be another one.”

    It’s driving down Manchester, Slauson, or Imperial from Watts all the way to the beach and finding something to love the entire way.

    It’s curving around the exit from the 405 to the 105 or sailing down the 110 until it ends and then coasting up and down the hills which crest with a panorama of the port and Catalina Island. (Twenty minutes—without traffic)

    It’s pupusas, tacos, dim sum, margaritas, BBQ, horchata, soul food, cupcakes, Cajun, food trucks, chicken & waffles, fro yo, Starbucks, and In N Out.

    It’s living in flip flops, sunglasses, and sundresses during the day and then jeans, a cute top, and a sweater at night.

    It’s reading the LA Times on Sunday. It’s Ralph’s yogurt. It’s Homeboy chips & salsa.

    It’s contemplating the enormity of life at Angel’s Gate Park or the futility of death on the streets of Compton. It’s knowing how to pronounce Sepulveda and San Pedro, but also bougainvillea and Villaraigosa.

    It’s recognizing the places I know and love, not just in NCIS: Los Angeles but in Xbox commercials, Southland, the music I listen to, and the TV shows supposedly set in New York or South Beach.

    It’s a neighborhood bar where I might sit next to Blake Griffin but the bartender knows me better. It’s feeling equally comfortable in the poorest church in Watts or the richest church in Manhattan Beach. It’s understanding someone when he talks about The Industry and when he tell me his shawty a hot mess. It’s listening to Ryan Seacrest in the morning, DJ Santa Rosa in the afternoon, and Karen Sharp’s Love Songs on the Coast at night. It’s stumbling upon a city festival, a movie set, and dolphins on a single outing.

    My LA is a thousand experiences. So is everyone else’s. That’s why no one can capture it. That’s why no city can match it.

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