Ten years ago, my husband Daniel and I packed up our 2000 Toyota Camry, put our dogs in the backseat, and began our journey from Bushwick, Brooklyn, to Pico-Robertson, Los Angeles.
I was in New York for five years at the time and chose to stay in the city after graduating from SUNY Purchase. My husband was born and raised there.
Although I loved New York at first, the chaos started to hit me. I couldn’t stand the noise, our crazy neighbors, the cost of living and the erratic weather. Daniel, a comedian, wanted to try out the LA scene. We made the decision to move to LA and within a month we were here.
On one of our first nights in town, we met someone who told us she was visiting, but she used to live in LA.
“How long were you here?” I asked.
“10 years,” she said.
Ten years. I could not believe it. I couldn’t imagine staying in LA for so long.
But now, 10 years later, my time here felt like one long, warm and sunny dream. I blinked and a decade passed.
So much has happened in that time. My husband and I got engaged one snowy night at the Kotel and married six months later on a sunny day in Malibu. We’ve had two kids here – we call them our “California Girls.” I completed my conversion to Judaism and we both grew in our adherence. We have made many friends, made major career changes, lost and acquired new pets, and traveled through this beautiful state.
LA is not a place I immediately loved. At first it was lonely and difficult to navigate, and for the first six months I was here I wanted to retreat to the East Coast. I didn’t understand how people adapted to the constant good weather and the lack of rain and snow. How did they ever know what time of year it was? This place was also huge, and not cohesive at all. It was hard to wrap my head around the geography and I got lost countless times in my first year here.
I would walk through my neighborhood on a sunny December day, thankful I wasn’t trudging through the snow. I went to a friend’s house for Shabbat and saw the crucible of several Jews around the table.
I kept thinking in the back of my mind that our stay in LA was temporary because I didn’t feel like it. But slowly I started to feel different. I would walk through my neighborhood on a sunny December day, thankful I wasn’t trudging through the snow and suffering from seasonal depression. I went to a friend’s house for Shabbat and saw the crucible of several Jews around the table. Or I would enjoy a nice piece of product, the best I’ve ever tasted.
The more friends I made and the good experiences I had, the more I finally realized: I loved LA, and I really belonged here. My husband always tells me how important it is to live somewhere that suits you. LA suits me.
While LA gets a bad reputation as fake, celebrity-obsessed, crime-ridden, and not serious—unlike New York—I don’t see it that way at all.
Yes, we have problems like homelessness, high living costs and corrupt politicians. But I tolerate being around nice and creative people who strive to make their lives and the world a better place. I love the Jewish community, from the incredible people to the wonderful restaurants and the wide range of synagogues and schools. Everyone generally gets along, no matter how different they are. So many of us are transplants who made our way to LA to make it as part of our personal 21st century gold rush. Every day I’m here I have hope about my future.
I came to LA for a chance to start fresh and find myself. I’ve done that—and a lot more—since I came here 10 years ago. On to another 10 years, and hopefully many, many more.
Kylie Ora Lobell is the Community and Arts Editor for the Jewish Journal.