In one word, I would describe Los Angeles as “sprawling.” It is just massive. Everything is so spread out and traffic times make it seem larger. There is a feeling of aimlessness here; there isn’t much unity that I can feel. I’m not sure what LA is trying to be, and I don’t think it knows, either. In many ways, it feels like the complete opposite of San Francisco.
If I was to describe San Francisco and the Bay Area in one word, I would say it is “concentrated.” Even though the Bay Area is geographically large, it is so densely packed that nothing feels too far away and you don’t need a car to get around. The high concentration of talent in technology and other industries gives the region a strong sense of purpose. The Bay Area is home to many youthful, like-minded, innovative people, which may explain why I’ve always felt a sense of unity there.
LA demands a completely different lifestyle than SF does. In many ways, LA reminds me of most of America; you have to drive everywhere you want to go, most places to shop and eat are chains, and the weather isn’t like SF’s, which is unique to say the least. Sitting in the car while family members drive me places makes me feel like I’m going back in time.
I’ve adjusted quickly to using public transportation. Sometimes I wish I had a car, but the expense and hassle is not worth it, at least not yet. I also detest long commutes and am not a fan of driving; it just seems like a waste of time to me. My mom asked me if I ever could see myself buying a car again. I didn’t even have to think about my response. I said “Yes, in ten years when it can drive itself.”
Ironically, I do like cars. I appreciate and am inspired by the design of beautiful cars, inside and out. My family surprised me with tickets to the LA Auto Show the day I got here for Thanksgiving break. My siblings and I had fun being goofy and trying the vehicles on for size.
The beach communities of LA, where my family is currently living, are beautiful. The beach brings a sense of unity, as does volleyball. Here, going to the beach to play volleyball is as common as going outside to mow the yard in Pennsylvania. It’s a hoot.
Besides playing some beach volleyball, this Thanksgiving break has been relaxing and much-needed. I was missing my siblings and mom, so it is great to spend time with them, even though we all miss our brother and family back home. We are all trying to find our way in this new land, but we have much to be thankful for.
I think that, no matter where you grow up or how humble you are, we all take things for granted. We grow accustom to things not changing. This is especially true of the places we grow up. People who have grown up here don’t think twice about going to the beach. I never fully realized how special it is to have a large backyard like my family did. Having any yard in SF is a treat, let alone a yard the size of ours back home; it’s like a park to these people!
I think that’s why it’s important to always be faithful stewards of what we have been given, no matter how great or small. We don’t know when we will be without something, and only then will we realize how much it truly means to us. That’s why being thankful is more than just a day to eat turkey. It’s a lifestyle.