Like so many wannabe actors before me, I came to this gritty city with big dreams of “making it” in Tinseltown. I thought I wanted to be an actress until I got here and realized that driving around begging casting directors for approval wasn’t for me. Nonetheless, I stayed in Los Angeles — and over the last sixteen years, this big, messy, giant suburban sprawl has become a part of me.
My husband and I have agonized over the decision of whether to stay or go. Making a cost-benefit analysis — like whether to stay near family in perfect weather or go where we can provide a better quality of life for our daughter in a place with unbearable heat — has felt like trying to solve an impossible math equation. You can’t put a price on either of those things — but as Thomas Sowell said, “There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”
As much trash as I’ve talked about this city, this state, it’s the closest thing to home I’ve had, and I love it. Or maybe I love the memory of what it once was, the same way Tarantino and Lana Del Rey romanticize the golden era of Hollywood. Only the city I miss still existed a mere eight years ago.
So despite being in a purgatory of indecision for almost a year, we are leaving Los Angeles at last — and, like all the basic bitches in California, we’re heading to Texas. Our departure is bittersweet. I’m simultaneously mourning the end of an era and looking forward to a new chapter. I’ll be packing and suddenly find myself crying.
Los Angeles has been the scene of so many of my milestones. I popped my stand-up comedy cherry on the Main Room stage at the world-famous Comedy Store. I found Hope here, in more ways than one: my dog and my sobriety. Which leads me to my husband. He and I met in recovery (which is amazing in Los Angeles by the way — some of the best in the world). We had our miracle baby at Cedars-Sinai.
The hardest part are the people we’re leaving behind. My husband’s mother and stepfather. His sister. My beloved aunt and uncle, truly parents to me, whom I’ve spent Christmas (and every other holiday) with for years. I’ll miss being able to road-trip up the 101 to Avila Beach to see the in-laws, or go to the Getty with my daughter and her grandparents. I’ll miss my doctors and my mailman. The same woman has been doing my eyebrows for sixteen years; I know her kids, her story. She’s seen me go from wild party girl to geriatric mommy.
Nothing brings me joy quite like California produce. Stone-fruit season is right around the corner and I’m already looking at my favorite vendor like a memory. My Sundays won’t be the same without her or my aunt, who always meets me there. An amazing chef and consummate foodie, my aunt knows where to get the best grapes, the best homemade hummus, the best cheeses. Los Angeles is truly a Mecca for foodies. Everything from the local taco trucks, to Felix in Venice, to all the great sushi, everywhere you turn is a hidden culinary delight.
I’ll miss the thrill of spotting dolphins from the beach in Malibu. The stunning purple jacaranda trees in full bloom right now. The smell of jasmine blossoming at night. The silhouette of palm trees against a marine layer lit up by light pollution.
It’s been ages since I’ve done it, but riding my bike or rollerblading up and down the boardwalk would bring a permanent smile to my face. Before Covid, we would gather for music and a picnic down at the Santa Monica Pier, lazing under the summer evening sunset, surrounded by clouds of marijuana smoke.
And the music. Oh, the live music in this town. My times at Coachella are behind me but, God, those were the glory days of that festival. I’ll miss the Hollywood Bowl, a truly magical venue, and the Fourth of July event I attend every year. There are no bad seats at the Bowl and if you ever get a chance to see anyone live there, make it happen. Put it on your bucket list.
There were movie nights in the Hollywood Forever Cemetary. Afternoons at the Getty Villa. Hikes, hikes and more hikes. Since living in Los Angeles, I have become attuned to the ways of the desert. I’m going to miss being able to pop over to my church, Joshua Tree, just a few hours away.
I hate that I’m taking our daughter away from her grandparents — but nothing has driven me out of Los Angeles faster than rising crime, rampant homelessness and drug addiction, draconian lockdown measures — and an insane cost of living.
Leaving California is like leaving a crazy, abusive ex with whom the sex was amazing. The big picture is awful — but at the moment I’m only remembering how hot she is.
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s May 2023 World edition.