Reflecting on 10 years in Los Angeles

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 had been in New York for five years at the time, opting 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 was getting to me. I couldn’t stand the noise, our crazy neighbors, the cost of living, and the erratic weather. Daniel, who is a comedian, wanted to try the Los Angeles scene. We made the decision to move to Los Angeles and within a month we were here.

During one of our first nights in town, we met someone who told us he was visiting, but lived in Los Angeles.

“How long were you here?” I asked.

“10 years,” he said.

Ten years. She couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine staying in Los Angeles that long.

But now, 10 years have passed and my time here has felt like a long, warm, sunny dream. I blinked and a decade passed.

So much has happened during that time. My husband and I got engaged on a snowy night at the Kotel and were married six months later on a sunny day in Malibu. We have had two children here, we call them our “California girls”. I completed my conversion to Judaism and we both grew in our observance. We made lots of friends, went through major career changes, lost pets and gained new ones, and toured this beautiful state.

LA is not a place I instantly love. It was lonely at first and hard to navigate, and I wanted to retire to the East Coast for the first six months I was here. I didn’t understand how people adjusted to the constant good weather and the lack of rain and snow. How did they know what time of year it was? This place was also huge and not at all cohesive. Geography was hard to understand and I got lost countless times in my first year here.

I was walking through my neighborhood on a sunny December day, grateful I wasn’t trudging through the snow. I would go to a friend’s house for Shabbat and notice the melting pot of different Jews around the table.

I kept thinking in the back of my head that our stay in Los Angeles was temporary because I wasn’t interested. But slowly, I began to feel different. I was walking through my neighborhood on a sunny December day, grateful I wasn’t trudging through the snow and experiencing a seasonal blues. I would go to a friend’s house for Shabbat and notice the melting pot of different Jews around the table. Or I would enjoy a tasty product, the best I have ever tasted.

The more friends I made and the more good experiences I had, the more I finally realized: I loved Los Angeles and I belonged here. My husband always tells me how important it is to live in a place that suits you. LA suits me.

Although LA has a bad rep for being fake, celebrity-obsessed, crime-ridden, and unserious, unlike New York, I don’t see it that way at all.

Yes, we have problems like homelessness, a high cost of living, and corrupt politicians. But I tolerate being around nice, creative people who are striving to make their lives and the world a better place. I love the Jewish community, from the amazing people to the delicious restaurants to the wide variety of synagogues and schools. In general, everyone gets along, no matter how different they are. Many of us are transplants who found our way to Los Angeles to make it as part of our personal 21st century gold rush. Every day that I am here, I feel optimistic about my future.

I came to Los Angeles for a chance to start over and find myself. I have done that, and much more, since I got here 10 years ago. Here’s to another 10 years and hopefully many, many more.


Kylie Ora Lobell is the community and arts editor of the Jewish Journal.

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