Reflecting on 10 Years in Los Angeles
Ten years ago, my husband Daniel and I packed up our 2000 Toyota Camry, put our dogs in the backseat and started our journey from Bushwick, Brooklyn, to Pico-Robertson, Los Angeles.
I had been in New York for five years at that point, opting to stay in the city after graduating from SUNY Purchase. My husband was born and raised there.
Though I loved New York at first, the chaos was getting to me. I couldn’t stand the noise, our crazy neighbors, the cost of living and the erratic weather. Daniel, who is a comedian, wanted to try out the LA scene. We made a decision to move to LA and within a month, we were here.
During one of our first nights in town, we met someone who told us she was visiting, but she used to live in LA.
“How long were you here?” I asked.
“10 years,” she said.
Ten years. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine staying in LA for that long.
But now, it’s 10 years later, and my time here has felt like one long, warm and sunny dream. I blinked and a decade went by.
So much has happened during that time. My husband and I got engaged one snowy night at the Kotel and married six months later on a sunny day in Malibu. We’ve had two children here – we call them our “California girls.” I completed my conversion to Judaism and we both grew in our observance. We’ve made lots of friends, gone through major career changes, lost pets and gained new ones and toured this beautiful state.
LA is not a place that I instantly loved. It was lonely at first and hard to navigate, and I wanted to retreat back to the east coast the first six months I was here. I didn’t understand how people adjusted to the constantly good weather and lack of rain and snow. How did they ever know what time of year it was? This place was huge, too, and not at all cohesive. It was hard to wrap my head around the geography and I got lost countless times my first year here.
I’d be walking through my neighborhood on a sunny December day, grateful I wasn’t trudging through snow. I’d go to a friend’s house for Shabbat and notice the melting pot of different Jews around the table.
I kept thinking in the back of my head that our stay in LA was temporary because I wasn’t into it. But slowly, I began to feel differently. I’d be walking through my neighborhood on a sunny December day, grateful I wasn’t trudging through snow and experiencing seasonal depression. I’d go to a friend’s house for Shabbat and notice the melting pot of different Jews around the table. Or I’d enjoy a tasty piece of produce, the best I’d ever tasted.
The more friends I made and good experiences I had, the more I finally realized: I did love LA, and I did belong here. My husband always tells me how important it is to live somewhere that fits you. LA fits me.
Though LA gets a bad reputation for being fake, celebrity-obsessed, crime-ridden and unserious – unlike New York – I don’t see it that way at all.
Yes, we have problems like homelessness, a high cost of living and corrupt politicians. But I tolerate it to be around nice and creative people striving to make their lives, and the world, a better place. I love the Jewish community, from the incredible people to the delicious restaurants and the wide range of synagogues and schools. Everyone generally gets along, no matter how different they are. So many of us are transplants who found our way to LA to make it as part of our personal 21st century gold rush. Every day I’m here, I feel hopeful about my future.
I came out to LA for a chance to start fresh and find myself. I’ve done that – and so much more – since coming here 10 years ago. Here’s to another 10 years, and hopefully many, many more.
Kylie Ora Lobell is the Community and Arts Editor for the Jewish Journal.