One in Ten Million
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by Josh Lee
2013 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
        It's always so shocking to me that there are people who love living in Los Angeles. I can never figure out the justification behind that. Sometimes I think it's that the silicon, collagen, and residue from all the airbrushed tanning has seeped into their arteries and made it's way to the brain cutting off neurological function and chock their delusional "love" for LA to a psychological problem. I spend so much of my time bitching about how revolting Los Angeles and it's culture is that I've let myself accept it as fact rather than opinion. Los Angeles is hideous, ugly, atrocious, superficial, plastic, fake, disgusting, and describable by every synonym of any of the above.
        I've lived in Los Angeles for two years now, long enough for me to consider myself a true "Angeleno", though make no mistake, in my mind that's the equivalent of a New Yorker considering himself a local of the land of Jersey. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
        All of the above is why I leave as often as I can. Leaving Los Angeles is literally a breath of fresh air. Whether it's off to San Francisco, Seattle, Honolulu, London, or Amsterdam, I'm more than thrilled to pack my hash and get the fuck out of LA county lines. 
        But coming back from my home away from home in Amsterdam to two new jobs and a bunch of new people this summer, I got a nice big reality check that in fact, my factual description of Los Angeles may not actually be fact.
       Nine months out of every year in college, I'm surrounded by a group of creatives (in other words people with broader world view who appreciate aesthetics), many of whom don't hail from the sprawling plague called LA, and therefore understand Los Angeles as only an outsider can.
        This summer, however, at both my jobs, which account for 7 days of my week, I'm surrounded by people who come from and love Los Angeles. They love the culture, they love the people, they love the weather, they love the city. And like white blood cells running through the arteries of our city, often attack me, the foreign contaminant who doesn't belong and yet still makes his presence as an outsider known.
        By the figures of the 2013 US Census, there are approximately 10 million people living in Los Angeles County. I'm one so we'll say there are approximately 9,999,999. As I have yet to find a person in LA that fits the grooves of my gears, I often like to say, partly in humor and partly not, that not even one in ten million people is right for me.
        As I sat with my coworker and good friend tonight in a slightly less than glamorous diner after work, I listened to him talk about his life in the year since I've seen him. He told me about how after this he was off to the club and then off to hook up with a gentleman caller. Then he told me about how he supposedly is still being held on a string by the "love of his life" and how there's yet another man (we're up to three) in the picture. It's not just gay men who are already notorious for flinging their thingies around. Straight men and women in Los Angeles are all about the same.
        I've always wondered how people meet each other and form relationships in LA. We all live so far away from one another and spend a good percent of our time on the road often in the solitary confinement of our cars. To the outsider, it would seem nearly impossible to meet anyone in Los Angeles, much less someone that you're compatible enough with to have a relationship. It would seem, however, that born and bred Angelenos have somehow evolved to develop a heightened strength of socialization and a keen sense of direction on the hunt for it. At the same time, listening to my coworker talk about his life of many many men, I couldn't help but wonder: has that heightened sense mutated into a new over-active strain that can only be satisfied by multiple social-romantic relationships? And in Los Angeles, a city with a culture that's all about appearance and vanity, has this evolution killed off the inner beauty that used to live in everyone? And, in a city where it's not unreasonable to demand it all and demand it now, has love and romance become a thing of the past, something that's no longer worth waiting for?
        Then again, in a city that is absolutely terrifying due to the traffic that greets you at LAX alone, maybe all of that evolution is merely just the necessity for survival.
        As a slightly less evolved outsider, though, you have your advantages over the Angeleno. You understand that there is a world outside of the sprawling land of Los Angeles. You understand that blue skies are much bluer elsewhere. You understand that fifteen-lane-freeways and SUV's the size of small apartments aren't the most logical means of transportation. Most importantly, though, you understand that in the outside world, you aren't judged based on the fact that you don't drive an Audi and weigh a few extra pounds.
        "So why did you choose to make this your home if you hate it so much?" Is often the question I get asked when I bring any of this up. Well, truth be told, I'm only here for school. Yes, in that respect, I do care about labels and names. Otis is a good one. Ironically, living my college years in Los Angeles is the ticket to get me out of it.
        That said, I've had three real "homes" in my lifetime, and you might be surprised at where they are. I consider Honolulu, Seattle, and Amsterdam to be my home bases around the world. Even though I've lived in Los Angeles more than double the time I've spent in Seattle and Amsterdam combined, I still don't consider it my home.
        Home to me is somewhere that, when you step out of the airport terminal, you immediately know where you are and which way to turn. It's someplace that you can find your way without a map or GPS. It's a place that you have friends and family waiting for your arrival. More importantly, home is someplace that you're happy to return to.
        I suppose for some people that is and always will be Los Angeles, and I suppose in all fairness I need to learn to accept that. Truth be told, there are quite a few people I'll miss once I leave and continue on my journey and will want to meet up with in the future. I just don't know that we'll need to rendezvous in Los Angeles.