“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”
― Miriam Adeney
I went to a local coffee shop today to get some work done on my laptop, possibly even write a new blog post, and then I ended up running into a former schoolmate from music college, whom I talked to and philosophized with for the most part of my stay. This inspired today’s blog post.
We both happen to be from Europe, him being from France, myself from Germany. It was an inspiring talk and it also made me feel very understood in what I’m experiencing, just having come back to the US after my summer vacation in Europe. Feeling torn between two “homes” is something a lot of people haven’t experienced. So for those of you who haven’t, I want to give you an idea what it’s like. And for those of you who have, hopefully this post will resonate with you and make you feel understood as well.
Of course I’m also covering the perks of living in LA compared to Germany, or Europe. So keep on reading if you want the bird’s eye view.
1. The Obvious: The Weather Rarely Sucks, i.e. The Sun Always Shines
I personally feel influenced by the weather a lot. I get slow and moody when it’s cloudy, gloomy, or rainy outside, especially when it’s like that for days or even weeks. The year-round nice L.A. weather is definitely a big reason for me to be here. I feel like I have more energy, I can go outside more, no matter the season, and I don’t have to deal with snow or ice and the extra time it takes to get said things off your car in the mornings.
2. The Mentality: People Seem to be More “Open”
And by that I really meant the overall mentality. I’m not saying there aren’t any Europeans that are openminded, I’m not saying either that European people aren't nice. I’m talking about the vibe you get when you go to a place, and even more so when you live somewhere.
People talk to each other more in L.A. Whether it’s the cashier at the supermarket who packs your bags for you, or a friendly lady walking down the street complimenting you on your outfit. It’s not weird or unusual to make small talk with strangers, and all superficial small talk isn’t bad. It’s actually awesome. To have this moment of connection with a stranger, that sometimes can make your whole day, when they compliment you on something, or in return, when you were able to make them smile or engage with you.
The other normal thing here is being accepted exactly for who you are or what you are not. I’m not trying to bash Europeans here, but it definitely feels a lot more like “swimming against the stream” when you pursue a career or passion, that is a bit out of the norm or has something to do with being creative, building something from the ground, or simply believing in something bigger for yourself than the "average person" does. You can feel the glances of suspicion and doubt on your back as you walk the streets. In Europe your dreams are valid in most people's eyes only, once they've proven to bring you success. In Los Angeles most people are “dreamers and believers”. We might have “normal” jobs, but most of us are working on something else, something we want to create, something that isn’t safe, but in a way risky, something exciting, that doesn't bring in money right away and might even require you to invest in it first. There aren't any guarantees it will pay off. However, there’s so much support for that kind of people here. We all get it. We all know what it’s like, and we are inspired by meeting someone else with a vision. It feels good to have landed in a place where you aren’t the “weirdo of the town”.
3. Outdoors: A Combination of City and Nature
Whether you want to go to the beach, hike local mountains or be in the middle of the crazy city, you can do it all here. None of those things are far. Granted I don’t do either of them every day or even every week, but having that opportunity and that variety is pretty amazing.
4. Food: "Vegan Paradise" or "All You Can Dream Of"
As a vegan this is another variety paradise. At this point there are so many vegan restaurants and places in L.A. that it’s almost impossible to try them all. Whatever food you can think of, you can get a vegan version here. And of course that also means you’re in a place with many other vegans, who understand the lifestyle and don’t ask silly questions you’ve answered about a thousand times already. (Sorry Omnivores, no offense). And you don't get any mean side eyes either for mentioning you're vegan or avoiding gluten.
Feeling understood in your lifestyle choices definitely feels good.
Of course L.A. doesn't only have plant based foods, but about everything you can imagine. So it won't get boring for anyone here when it comes to eating.
5. Network: Meeting and Knowing People from All Around The World
The longer you live here the more people you get to meet. And because people from everywhere come here, whether it's for certain events, or to live here/ pursue a career, you get to build worldwide connections, which can last for a moment or a life time. The sad thing is, that, living here, you see many people come and go and you never know how long somebody will stick around here. But the really cool thing is, that not only will you make many valuable connections (in your industry), but you will also learn so much from them and about their different cultures. And who doesn't like the idea of being able to visit a friend, whatever continent or country you want to travel to!? ;)
6. Introspective: I Learned a Ton about Myself and Life
Being away from home, in a different setting and a different culture all by yourself, so to say, has shown me how limited my vision of the world was before venturing out. You really don't only gain a better understanding about certain things, but you also start to appreciate things you grew up with that you took for granted. In my case that was Germany's cleanliness and safety and a government that protects and helps its people. The US might not be the worst country when it comes to those things, but life can get pretty scary here once you're down in the dumps. But not only that. I got to know myself so much better, by having to deal with certain things on my own. I learned that there are many different ways to live and to go about life. Being amidst so many different groups of people, religions, styles, diets and professions, I realized there was no way to "follow the crowd". I found my own way and what works best for me and I'm not sure that would have been as easy in Europe.
7. What I Miss About Germany
No matter how much I like L.A., there will never be a place where I won't miss anything. The things I miss the most here are having real life access to my family and longterm friends. I would love to be able to go home just for a weekend once in a while. Of course I talk to them and I visit, but having them close by and in the same time zone is a luxury I sure took for granted before.
I also miss the super green and vibrant summers. I forget how green plants can be until I visit Europe in the spring or summer. I also miss the fact that people walk the streets, the city is busy with pedestrians. Everybody is always driving in LA. There is not one single "town center". It's different. Not bad, but different.
The laid back vibe is something I forgot about as well. Things are so hectic in LA, that you almost start guilt tripping yourself when you take a little break.
Things are generally cheaper too where I am from, so not paying an enormous amount of money for food, rent and other necessities is yet another thing that makes me question my decision to live here.
I do feel at home here. All those good and bad things. It's just a matter of what you want to deal with. The grass will always be greener on the other side, even if you already are on the other side... I feel torn sometimes because I have two homes. I am neither fully German anymore, nor do I identify as American or fully Angeleno. I am a little bit of both. And instead of following that mental urge to define which one I should be, I am deciding that I am taking the best of both worlds with me. I traded a somewhat safer life for a somewhat more exciting life, and traveling between those two worlds keeps life interesting and makes me feel rich in a different sense of the word.