On a rare day off from both my internship and work, I decided it would be a good idea to visit L.A. for the first time. I wanted to wait but I couldn’t help myself!. I felt L.A. calling me to it. I tell you, my first day was a mess! I decided to take the Greyhound. Big mistake. The bus was 45 minutes late, and then a girl tripped into the plastic and metal shield in the driver’s area and had to call the paramedics. And little did I know that the bus would make a slight detour in Long Beach to pick up even more people. I got into L.A. over an hour and a half late.
As I sat in frustrating anticipation, the rolling hills and oceanside slowly merged into a more industrial setting, sprinkled with power lines and oil rigs, separated by rows of leaning palm trees. The roads became more ragged, and I passed many gorgeous graffiti covered walls. L.A. quietly emerged from behind the smoggy haze, looming magnificently on the horizon. I couldn’t believe it. Don’t judge, but I cried a bit. It was such a spectacular site. As I drew in closer, I could see all the clusters of million dollar homes toppling down the hills in the distance. I could see all the billboards for upcoming films and shows.
I arrived at the Greyhound Station, which is located Downtown, near the American Apparel factory. I called myself an Uber, which would take me further into the city, so I could start my journey. I passed right through Skid Row, which was a sobering sight. L.A. is a city of dreams, both realized and broken. There were rows upon rows of tents, and carts covered in bags, with their owners sitting on the side of the road, waiting for another day to pass by. I was let out near Pershing Square, where I briefly admired a glittering art installation. I wandered around a bit, and went to the FIDM Museum to see the Art of Television Costume Design exhibition.
I was able to the see some of the costumes from Roots, Scream Queens, American Horror Story, Empire, Game of Thrones, and Agent Carter. I didn’t stay in Downtown long, but I should have since there was the Last Bookstore and lots and lots of bars. But I don’t understand people living in garages and lofts. Explain that to me?
Next up, I went to Hollywood. Easily my least favorite part of the day besides the bus ride. While it was amazing to see the Dolby Theater, the TCL Chinese Theater, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I hated the place. It was crawling with ignorant tourists, people trying to sell overpriced tours and attraction tickets, and other hustlers. Almost everyone was pushy and inconsiderate. No one seemed to know the phrases “excuse me” or “sorry”. Well, I’ve always been taught to be polite, but I guess I should just get over it. After a while in the area, I stopped being polite, and cut around people, and probably ruined a couple pictures. Who cares though. They would have done the same. I tried to take pictures of some of the stars, but people kept walking over them. The worst thing I saw was a kid texting on top of Tom Hanks’ handprint. Ugh. It’s a rough atmosphere. I got my picture of the Hollywood sign on the Ishtar Gate where I found a little nook that was tourist free to take a picture in peace and quiet. I admired the sign, hanging out in the hills. In all honesty, if I were a celebrity, I wouldn’t want a star because I’d hate for my name to be stepped on by careless people. I didn’t like seeing people trample on the names of people who paved the way and on the people who I admire.
Tired of all the mess in Hollywood, I hit up Century City. It was so much quieter, and clean. I was in a rush to find something to eat, so I googled a random place in the area. Little did I realize that it was located in the office complex of my dream company. I was really confused when my Uber pulled into the driveway, next to a row of valets standing in front of the starship monolith I had seen many times on my computer. I honestly didn’t realize the addresses were one and the same. I walked through the building, feeling strange. I was literally in a place where it all happens. I was in the center of Hollywood, watching the sun hit the tinted glass windows that cover the entertainment industry’s secrets. Hollywood the concept, not Hollywood the place. The towers of power where the big decisions are made. Unlike the tourists in Hollywood, these people probably wouldn’t be phased by anything. There, the glitz and glam is replaced by corporate jargon.
I also stuck out like a sore thumb. I wore my hair naturally, with flowers pinned in the side. I was wearing jeans, some flats, and a yellow blouse, all bought from Ross. Almost everyone I saw was in business attire- fancy dresses and suits. The people my age were wandering in cliques, pushing around mail carts. I had dove into the restaurant quietly, hoping no one would pay me any mind.
L.A. is beautiful, but in its own rugged way. Of everyone I talked to, they seemed to love it and hate it at the same time. I talked to a couple Uber drivers and busy Angelenos. They recommended some less busy spots to me, and asked me a couple of questions about myself. I told them where I am from. Since L.A. is filled with many young hopefuls, most people say “You have to have a tough skin.” which I know. Oh God, do I know. I even heard a girl on the bus say she was getting away from the toxic environment, and she talked about how ingenuine the people are.
I returned to the Greyhound station at sunset, and as I departed, I watched the skyscrapers disappear. The sunset was breathtaking. I was looking at the true manifestation of an oxymoron. The gorgeous palm trees, the perfect sky, the sun setting on strip clubs, factories, and marijuana dispensaries. There were no clouds, so the sun was in full view, and there was this weird amber,smoky glow emanating from the buildings. I tried to take a good photo, but nothing could do it justice. I don’t know how to describe the feeling, but I was in love still. Still in love even though I walked through streets that smelled like piss, even though I was discouraged, even though the traffic was pretty damn horrendous, and even though I’m a little drop in an ocean of people. I guess that’s how a lot of people feel. They complain, yet they still love Los Angeles.
Adriana, The Cinema Soloist