Silver Lake is the only neighborhood in LA I’d even heard of before I moved here. The reason is nothing to be proud of. I was in a 24 phase, and some article was raving about Kiefer Sutherland’s warehouse-lofty home there. It may have been Rolling Stone. Even worse.
Fast forward a few years, I’m trekking out to Silver Lake for weekend sewing lessons. It is Silver Lake perfection. The owner/instructor is an ex-corset maker who sprinkles her sewing lessons w/ references to her childhood hobby of sewing costumes for medieval fairs, the virtue of supporting local business and the evils of advertising/big corporations. (Naturally, I keep my advertising career to myself.) The class is filled with mildly alternative mid 30s ladies w/ serious careers, and/or children in very expensive strollers. There is a magic shelf of pricey Japanese printed fabrics. I’m not allowing myself to touch them until I pass some ill-defined sewing milestone. Sewing a fitted dress with an invisible zipper? I’m not sure just what will make me worthy.
I’m actually so enthralled by this sewing thing that I’m taking back to back classes this Saturday. There is only a scant 30 minute break for me to grab lunch at the cutey-cute tiny Thai restaurant. Alone with green curry, I can’t help but listen in on the next table: artfully disheveled nearly thirties guy and barely twenties hipster girl. He is talking a lot about some kind of film project, some creative mumbo jumbo. It seems she was helping him out for awhile. He is a little too into himself.
Just as they’re about to leave, the girl starts the sort of quiet crying you are desperately trying to hold back and mumbling stuff about feeling lost and not liking LA. Artfully disheveled gets all older and wiser on her: “Listen, the first year in LA everyone wants to kill themselves. God knows I did. If I could hire you today, I would, but it’s just not financially possible. Tell you what, why don’t you go out, take a shitty part time job somewhere, find your niche and explore the city. Call me in a couple months, and we’ll make some kick ass films!”
It was tough to not laugh out loud. I'd had a similar conversation (minus the emotional part) with my then-boss a few months into LA. My side was a more pedestrian "this place sucks and I'm bored" than this girl's "I'm creatively lost and despondent." Anyway, the way he phrased it to me was that unlike cities like NY where you know immediately if it's for you or not, LA is "a slow creep." One day you may wake up and it feels like home, but you have to give it time to figure out where you stand. And really, artfully disheveled guy is right on. Gotta explore LA to find your way, it won't find you.
LA, it's been nearly 3 years. You're not so bad. Silver Lake, I have yet to run into Kiefer Sutherland. I want some answers.