I hate remaining idle or moving at a lackadaisical pace. I prefer to keep going until I’ve reached my limits. My need to push forward was more evident than ever this past weekend, as I vacationed in New York City. On Monday morning, I was still in New York. By the afternoon, I was back in Los Angeles.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my upcoming trip to New York, which I booked impulsively and somewhat irresponsibly. Considering I have a full-time job and am also back in school, my time would be better spent in the office or doing homework, rather than frolicking the streets of the Big Apple. But at the time, I felt a strong urge to get away from L.A., even if just for a weekend. It goes back to my feelings of dissatisfaction with whatever I’m doing in the current moment. Regardless of how successful I am or have become, or how satisfying the work I do is — I’m always yearning for the next best thing.
I arrived in New York City late Thursday evening, just after midnight. Upon arrival, I was immediately reminded of Los Angeles’ downsides. Even the most arbitrary triggers had me feeling sour toward L.A., such as hailing a cab at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Public transportation seems so much more efficient and advanced in New York, I thought, and it immediately had me fuming about my life back home. In addition, there was a multimedia advertisement for the Metropolitan Opera that played on a small screen inside the taxi. Such feats are only a pipe dream here in Los Angeles. The classical music scene feels so much more immersive in New York City. True, Los Angeles has a small corps that is devoted to classical music, but that typically only resides in one part of town. But stepping foot on New York soil, I swear I could already hear music in the air.
The following day, I felt like the music was following me. As I welcomed the frigid weather, which most would find bothersome, the sounds of strings and woodwinds played furiously wherever I went. It never gets below 50 degrees in Los Angeles. I have peacoats and sherpa jackets that gather dust in my closets. Yet I’m finally able to dust them off across the country. Why was Los Angeles so vapid, I kept thinking, and why did Angelenos waste their energy on the lowbrow? The winds may have been cold, yet my body felt warm with contentment.
But by that evening I couldn’t feel my face. My ears were bright red and my motor skills delayed from the cold. I kept repeating to myself, “This is still better than L.A. This is still better than L.A.,” because it was something different. I repeated this mantra to myself as I walked 20 blocks from the stalled subway train to Lincoln Center. I attended the U.S. premiere of Thomas Adès’ The Exterminating Angel, which was, without a doubt, the most important production I’ve been to in the last two years. I left the performance on a cloud, only to be brought back down to earth as I waited over 30 minutes for a train back to Brooklyn, where I was staying.
As time wore on, I could feel my attitude changing slightly. By the end of Day 2, I felt my optimism beginning to disintegrate. I was shivering. My feet were tired. And it was so cold that (unbeknownst to me at the time) I ended up wearing the same turtleneck/flannel combination my entire trip. And by Day 3, I felt kind of like the city itself: dirty, tired and played.
Normally, I would relish in all the inconveniences the city throws at me. But things were starting to feel somewhat different. Usually, when I return from vacation, I tend to fester bitterly the entire ride home. But I felt myself actually looking forward to coming back to Los Angeles. I was only gone for a weekend, sure, but it was just long enough for me to realize how much I take the city for granted. For one, you don’t need to bring a damn coat wherever you go. Yesterday morning, when I went straight from the airport to work, I kept my winter coat on, only to realize I was sweating profusely. I legitimately forgot I didn’t need one. As I arrived to work, I keenly left it in my car as I walked to the office. I smiled knowing it would be going back in storage for the remainder of the year.
But perhaps my warmest welcome back to Los Angeles was seeing a guy driving out of the downtown Whole Foods parking lot with a joint in his mouth. The carefree attitude of L.A.’s stoners was a cordial reminder for me to slow down and enjoy the moment. L.A. is everything New York isn’t, and vice versa. I’ll always hold New York City close to my heart, but as I get older, maybe Los Angeles is where I’m meant to settle down.
Arya Roshanian is a “senior” majoring in music. His column, “From The Top,” runs Tuesdays.