Somehow, I’ve managed to pass the two-month mark of my first time in L.A, and while I’m often tempted to fall into the familiar cliche of saying that I feel like I just got here, I’d be doing this summer an injustice if I did. Thanks to my internships offering me opportunities to cover premieres and event, and to new friends making the transition from tourist to transplant painless, L.A. feels more familiar than somewhere I’ve only been for eight weeks. Already, a bouncer at my favorite bar once remembered me. I complain about the selfie stick-wielding mobs on Hollywood Boulevard. I have strong opinions about Coffee Bean versus Starbucks.
I can’t say it feels like I just got here because more has happened in the past few months than sometimes happens in half a year. Coming here, the writer in me demanded that I keep careful record of what happened, but, of course, I’ve only managed two journal entries, many weeks apart that mostly fret over how pale I am and ask how I haven’t yet met Anna Kendrick. No record of nights of unexpected glory at Break Room 86, an ‘80s bar with Michael Jackson impersonators and break dancers, or the fortune spent on $10 pressed juice, or a slow mastering of Hollywood phone lingo. Part of me berates myself for not making a more consistent effort to record the minute details of the summer. That part is prematurely nostalgic, because I don’t want this to end. I’m smitten.
They say you either hate or love L.A., but I think that’s the nature of cities that offer you the keys to the metaphorical kingdom. New York promises skyscraper grandeur, Wall Street paychecks, and publishing glory. L.A.’s got Hollywood. We worship these places for what they promise, and we turn on them because they often let us down. I was like that. I’m still like that. I’m annoyingly idealistic and an aggressive proponent of why everyone should make the move out west.
But if I’ve learned anything being here, it’s that no true love affair is that black and white. L.A. has the downsides everyone talks about: appearance is valued over personality. People think they’re entitled to a fast-track to fame. Those in the public eye can act like their name elevates them to a status above everyone else. Sometimes, when you’re one of a mass of people all chasing after the same thing, it can be discouraging. The city doesn’t owe you success, and unless you get extraordinarily lucky, you’re not going to get spontaneously plucked out of obscurity in a city saturated with dreamers. That’s a rude awakening, especially when people come here starry-eyed with hope, but it’s also what makes L.A. great.
L.A. forces you to work hard, to be more creative, to push your boundaries, to learn what really gets you up in the morning, while offering beaches, parties and mind-blowing good food when you need a break. L.A. gives nothing except the opportunities and tools to eventually do something. L.A. is a place where, trite as it sounds, dreams come true, just as other dreams are smashed to smithereens to give way to new ones.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kim Bussing is a rising senior in the College. Behind the Screens appears every other Friday at thehoya.com.