L.A.’s fine, the sun shines most the time and the feeling is “lay back”
Palm trees grow and rents are low. But you know I keep thinkin’ about making my way back
Well, I’m New York City born and raised but nowadays,
I’m lost between two shores L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home
New York’s home,
But it ain’t mine no more.
— — Neil Diamond
When we moved from Boston to Los Angeles two years ago (not counting a little more than a year we spent as nomads), this Neil Diamond song captured the feeling we had. We were lost between two shores. LA wasn’t home, and Boston wasn’t ours any more.
Now two years later, we still occasionally miss Boston and New England. The lovely fall colors, the serene beauty of fresh snow, and the blossoming of flowers at the end of winter…how can we forget them? Also, the White Mountains, our outdoor playground, and Plum Island, where we went birdwatching. Above all, how can we not miss our family and friends who were a part of our lives for so many decades?
However, to our surprise, not only have we made home in Los Angeles, we actually like it here. Like it a lot.
Of course, having both our children and their families nearby, and my sister living not far away (as LA distances go), are big reasons for our happiness in this megapolis. Afterall, we moved here because of them in the first place.
Another big factor is how different LA has turned out to be from what we expected. Yes, it is huge and driving on the freeways can be frightening. There is practically no downtown to speak off and what there is can be considered to be quite plain, at least at the first glance. It has none of the beauty of the Boston downtown.
On the other hand, we discovered that LA is not a monolithic entity but a collection of a large number of neighborhoods, connected by those freeways. Some of these neighborhoods are really pleasant, like Pasadena, where we have now settled.
Living in this quiet part of Pasadena we get a sense of what a “walking” neighborhood feels like. We get our daily walks through treelined streets (talk about LA being very dry) with hardly any cars around. There is Arroyo, a little stream we can walk down to. Walk a little further, and we end up at Rose Bowl, famous for its New Year’s parade.
Pasadena is in the foothills of San Gabriel Mountains, where we can see almost every day the 5,700’ high Mt. Wilson, and on a clear day, Mt. San Gorgonio, which is 11,200’ high. I never imagined living so close to mountains, especially in LA. There are also a number smaller hills nearby, all providing excellent hiking opportunities. On a typical morning, we would drive for ten minutes to a trail head and do a 3-mile hike that takes us 400’ high. As there are few trees to obstructing views, we can see the entire San Gabriel Valley as well as downtown LA.
This town also has an active cultural scene. The Pasadena Symphony orchestra performs in Ambassador Auditorium, only one mile away, within walking distance. Also, the downtown begins around there, and so we can dine in all types of restaurants and walk back home. There are several lovely gardens, the largest and most famous being The Huntington Gardens. It is enormous and makes you forget that you are in a major city. There are museums and an auditorium inside this garden, as well as well-designed Chinese and Japanese sections. There are thousands of trees and plants of every type imaginable.
Caltech is not far from our home either. In pre-Covid days, we used to attend lectures on scientific topics, such as space travels, which is what this university is famous for. Now we attend them on zoom. Soon, the in-person lectures should start again. JPL, the world-famous NASA facility managed by Caltech is just a little further away. That’s where most unmanned space probes get designed and built.
Then there is the Mediterranean weather of Southern California. Although I enjoyed snow as well as cross country skiing in New England, and cold weather does not bother me, I must say that being able to sit outdoors every day on our patio for a cup of coffee or a drink has its advantages.
Finally, being where we are, we are within a day or two drive away from some splendid areas of the country and a huge number of National Parks. We have done a couple of two-week road trips already and visited/hiked in multiple places located in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Utah. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.
Boston will always have a special place in our hearts. However, fortunately, we have ended up in a pretty good place to spend the winters of our lives.