Adjusting to Los Angeles

While I am loving the Getty Center—and have adjusted easily to working with my new coworkers, taking the employee shuttle up the hill, grabbing lunch in the cafe—Los Angeles itself has proved a harder hill to tackle.

I consider myself a city person: I grew up in the suburbs, but I was always happiest visiting DC or New York, surrounded by bustling people and zipping around on the metro. This past fall, I had the chance to live in Paris, and I only took an uber once, relying totally on trains and my own two feet to get me where I needed to go. For me, “city-living” had always been synonymous with “I don’t need a car,” and I loved that. There was such a freedom to be able to walk out of my apartment, hop on the metro, read a book or take a nap, and get off where I needed to be, without paying for gas or parking.

Before moving out to LA for the summer, I had done a bit of googling to figure out what I had gotten myself into, but I was still completely surprised by the city. I don’t have a car out here, and that has been hard! Los Angeles is not a city in the way that I think of cities: a lot of people in a tiny bit of space, preferably founded centuries ago. It is defined by urban sprawl: looking out from my perch at the Getty Center, I see buildings, houses, roads, almost as far as the eye can see (until it hits the ocean). It took me two hours today to go to a coffee shop 12 miles away. It often takes me 45 minutes to get to work, a mere mile and a half from my apartment.

This is because, for the most part, I’ve been relying on public transportation. In LA, unless you live in the tiny pocket of the city that has access to the metro, this means buses. And buses means you are sitting in the same traffic as all the other people in Los Angeles, all trying to get to their job or salon appointment or coffee run. Because of this, buses, especially in the afternoon/early evening, are often delayed.

At first, this made me feel incompetent and lost. I place stock in my ability to navigate new places, to get there by myself, and I felt like a failure when I had to call a lyft one afternoon because I had gone to the wrong bus stop (just around the corner from where I needed to be) and missed my bus. I didn’t want to admit that I was struggling to figure out how to get around.

The other biggest hurdle for me the first two weeks was loneliness. I am a very extroverted person and I love having people around. Being at work is fantastic, because there’s a whole office of potential new friends. However, it was very weird to be home and not have someone I could text to go grab ice cream or walk to the store with, or even to just come over and watch Netflix. I felt alone, while surrounded by people, in this sprawling conglomeration of neighborhoods that calls itself a city.

However, all hope is not yet lost! I have been getting much more used to the transportation system, and have my commute figured out. I know which bus lines and which stops are the fastest to get to and the closest to my home. I know when I have to get there early and when I can afford to walk a few minutes slower. I have also made some new friends! I went to a church on Sunday and met these four other young women, all new to LA within the last year, and we all hit it off. We already have a groupchat and plans for a taco night soon.

Between my new friends, a neighborhood farmers’ market that sells plums and baguettes (from a French bakery!), my increasing knowledge of the transit system, and my ever-lovely coworkers, I am finding myself, bit-by-bit, settling into Los Angeles.

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Comments

  1. Karen Poteet says:

    Loved hearing about your time. So glad you’ve met some friends. Me, give me the country any day! Love you! Always in my prayers.

  2. Wendy Mollins says:

    Hi Clara, Thank you for sharing your blog! I hope you have a wonderful summer while learning yet another part of the country. Prayers and love to you. Love, Aunt Wendy

  3. Lois Ingles says:

    I spent a summer in Los Angeles between my freshman and sophomore years of college My experience with navigating the Los Angeles landscape was about the same as yours. The one thing I did enjoy was the ocean. That is magnificent!

  4. cgpoteet says:

    The ocean has been truly wonderful!!

  5. cgpoteet says:

    Thank you so much Aunt Wendy!!

  6. cgpoteet says:

    Thanks Nana! Haha yeah this has definitely been different than the country. Missin the Blue Ridge mountains a bit!

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