6 Things You Miss When You Leave L.A.

by Sara Benincasa

Leaving Los Angeles is like leaving the sexiest, most laid-back boyfriend you’ve ever had. Sure, there were problems, like his perpetual lateness and the fact that he never really seemed to have a job and he kept trying to get you to watch his commercial reel. But man, was he a lot of fun. And so relaxed! Oh, God, when you were around him even you felt relaxed – and now it’s all gone because you’ve left. I felt this pain when I ended a two-year stint in/relationship with the city of Los Angeles and moved my tuchus across the country back to New York City, my previous place of residence/boo. Now, I love New York City and all of its gritty, grimy, heart-pounding magic. I don’t mean to say that Los Angeles is superior to NYC, or that NYC is superior to Los Angeles. I shan’t disturb that hornet’s nest today or any day – I believe both have their merits. But I can say conclusively that there are things you will miss desperately when you move away from Los Angeles, and I write this Proustian post in remembrance of things past…sunny, sunny things past. (Oh, God, the sunshine. I am so cold. So…cold.)

Hiking in a Gorgeous Canyon

Nobody walks in L.A., but everybody hikes. Even people like me who hate hiking will, on occasion, saunter off for a hike. It’s the only way to keep one’s muscles from atrophying while sitting in a car most of the day. Also, it’s free. Once, my hiking partner and I fell down a steep, dirt-covered hillside in Runyon Canyon because we mistook it for an actual trail. By the time we realized our mistake, it was too late. We ended up sliding down the non-trail rather rapidly on our asses, acquiring a few badass-looking cuts and bruises in the process. Afterwards, we bathed in the doggie water fountain and went out for 2 o’clock brunch on a weekday because that’s what you do in Los Angeles. It was delightful. In Los Angeles, you can literally and figuratively turn fresh lemons into lemonade any damn day of the week!

Eating Zankou Chicken

Zankou Chicken is truly amazing. The chicken is brilliant. The vegetables are lovely. The hummus is incredible! But it’s the garlic paste that truly makes Zankou Chicken shine. I used to eat Zankou Chicken when I was on the Paleo diet (everyone is on some weird diet in Los Angeles, so I had to join in) because I figured our caveman ancestors may not have actually eaten garlic paste, but they would have if they could have, so I would eat it in honor of them. No chicken elsewhere on earth—fried, broiled, boiled, or baked—can compare to Zankou Chicken. There is a sad, murderous backstory to Zankou Chicken. It is still the greatest chicken in Los Angeles—nay, in the world.

Dwelling in Freelance Utopia

In Los Angeles, nobody looks at you like you’re a weirdo when you say that you work from home or freelance for a living. Everybody’s a freelancer! It’s beautiful! You can walk into nearly any restaurant or café or library or bar or coffee shop, set up your laptop, and order something to eat/drink in order to justify your presence. Sure, you work three jobs to make ends meet, but so does everybody else. Folks may be laid-back in L.A., but they sure as hell aren't lazy.

Hanging Out On The East Side

The East Side of Los Angeles is fantastic. Silverlake is great. Los Feliz is wonderful. Highland Park is glorious. Eagle Rock is a delight. Echo Park is sweet except for those two terrifying streets with the Hills of Death. Everywhere on the East Side is at least interesting, and you can find great food and great people wherever you go. It’s packed with artists and other suspiciously creative types who don’t conform to the idea that everyone in Los Angeles is some brainless Barbie doll.

Living In The Valley

The Valley is the New Jersey of Los Angeles, and I say that with pride and joy. God, I love the Valley. It’s packed with reasonably affordable housing, tiki bars, rockabilly chicks, weird vintage shops, independent fast food joints, and room to breathe. There’s also plenty of fancy stuff to be found in the Valley, if that’s what you’re into. I especially recommend Toluca Lake, North Hollywood, and the Magnolia Park section of Burbank, although there are many more Valley delights on offer.

Basking In The Sun

The sun is great! One might even say that it is life-giving and necessary to sustain existence on this planet. It also makes people happy, and it happens to be around so very often in Los Angeles, throughout the year! Sure, you’ve got to wear sunblock and a hat and sunglasses from dawn to dusk, but you get to wear them whilst walking amongst pretty flowers on a warm, lovely day in the middle of winter while the rest of the country shivers.

I could go on and on about the wondrous and perfectly imperfect things that Los Angeles has to offer, but I can only write for so long before I am overcome by nostalgia. My tears of envy are frozen on my face here in Brooklyn, so I must endeavor to warm myself by the heater that mostly works, most of the time. I also take comfort in the fact that here, at least, I can actually get a real bagel – warm and chewy but crusty on the outside. And as much as I adore Los Angeles, icy-ass NYC will always have my icicle-encrusted heart in the palm of its frostbitten hand. We do have Central Park, after all, and it just can't be beat.

Images: Emmanuel_D.Photography/Flickr; Giphy(7)