Three out of five times, I will get this question from my Uber driver. So, how do you like LA? Without second thinking, I go to the answer Love the weather; hate the traffic. However, when I start pondering the reasons I came to LA, I voluntarily recalled the pieces of my feeling when the word LA appears in my mind.
In the beginning, there is warmth. It is redundant to repeat how this place is blessed with the best sunshine in the world, but it is what the sunshine brings in the air that truly makes me attached to the city. When the first ray of sunshine pours into my bed in the morning, I feel being surrounded and secure. I like the story of the dreamcatcher. When the sunshine flows through the net in the morning, it scatters bad dreams locked there during the night. Sunshine becomes the power to break through the darkness, beating the dread with such little efforts that it is almost inadvertent. Recently, when the sun rises in the valley, I know that I have survived another long, cold, and painful night. Sunshine is the sign of the victory to me.
And it is followed by the traffic. Vivan Gornick says that she feels the indescribable relief when she steps into the busy crowd in the New York City, and that resonates a lot in my mind in that I have a similar feeling when I merge into the busy traffic on the freeway. It is another experience that creates the peaceful and secure feeling in my deep inner world. Trapped in separate cars, people are still connected in a certain way. The moment I look outside of the car and imagine people in front of me seeing the similar scene, I can somehow escape from the loneliness for a while. Geling Yan, one of my favorite Chinese novelists, mentioned in the lost daughter of happiness that the sense of security comes from shared misfortune within the group of people. I am not afraid of anguish, but the fact that I have to undergo it on my own. Throwing myself into the busy traffic flow assures me that there are others out in the field and they are likely enduring similar agony as I am taking at the moment. The company sometimes brings me relief.
LA also attracts me because of people who live here. There are not many real natives residing in the city. Everyone comes from somewhere else, making he or she the outsider of the town to a different extent. Susan Sontag says in Unguided Tour that doesn’t expect the natives to take care of the beautiful things. The distance that we have kept from the city makes it more likely for us to appreciate. I have been so used to and started obsessed with this detachment from the local community as I have been moving from cities to cities all the time. Looking back, I have never sincerely fitted into any city. In fact, I have always been reluctant to doing so, because I cherish the unique angle this distance brings to me so much. I love the feeling of on the road, and this is what LA gives me.