My fiancé and I have been together for four years now. In this time, we both have had three other relationships. No, we’re not swingers. We just move… a lot. In the time we’ve been together, we’ve lived in New Haven, Seattle, New York City, and Denver. With each move, we start a new relationship with the city we inhabit. We also start a new sort of relationship with each other as we shift and develop our lives in these new environments.
Until now, every move we’ve made has had one common theme: we’ve made the decision together. This winter, we’ll be facing our first arranged marriage with a city, brought on by my fiance’s job.
You guessed it- Los Angeles.
For a couple of east coasters with an affinity for the lush, albeit rainy, beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the magnificence of the Rocky Mountains, LA has never drawn our attention. In fact, my relationship with it is completely non existent. We’ve never even met. So how can I feel comfortable jumping into this new relationship with a city that seems so far from my type? The truth is I can’t, but that’s what excites me.
What I can do is draw on the lessons I’ve learned from my past relationships to prepare me for what’s on the horizon. Here are a few of the most important lessons that I have learned over time:
1) Let go of preconceptions, the good and the bad.
As the thought of a perfect partner often ends in disillusionment, so does the thought of a perfect city. You will, inevitably, find flaws and find yourself battling the reality of this new relationship in contrast to what you imagined. Let it go. If you do, you might open yourself up to find new beauty as well.
2) Don’t be afraid to fight sometimes.
Seattle and I had a volatile relationship with moments of deep love and moments of true anger and borderline hate. It took me a long time to realize it was okay to rage against the city and that, no, it wasn’t always me causing the problem. Cities can be real bastards and it’s okay to acknowledge that.
3) Understand that we are never done evolving and accept the beauty in that.
You will inevitably change in your new environment, even if it is only in subtle ways. Likewise, the city you live in will inevitably change as you live there. Respect the change in each other and be open to the possibility that come with that change, whether it brings you closer or drives you to consider a new location.
4) Celebrate the Milestones.
Did you just get your first LA job or snag that amazing apartment you had been waiting for weeks to hear about? Congratulations! Take yourself out to your favorite neighborhood restaurant or spend a night out at your favorite venue. Too often we are so busy trying to make it in a new city that we don’t slow down to appreciate the milestones we hit along the way. So take a breath, pop the champagne, and maybe jump on that brand new bed you just had to lug up three flights of stairs.
To me, LA is uncharted territory. It’s the city version of a mysterious, all too popular boy you consider out of your league. You think “If only I could get his attention, I could change him”, but the reality is you hope he’ll be the one to change you. That’s what I want out of this relationship.
I want to embrace LA and leave one day knowing I am the better for it. I want to let the creative energy it generates radiate through me and emerge in my writing. I want it to make me laugh like a child, cry like a baby, and scream like a maniac. I want to feel it all.
Will our relationship be perfect? Probably not. Will it last? I have my doubts. What I do know is that when it’s time to say goodbye I will have created a relationship that I will always remember and I hope, if even for a fleeting moment, it will remember me.
See you soon, LA.