I suppose when I first moved to Sydney – almost two years ago now – I was faced with a culture shock of sorts. Having left behind a city whose streets were paved with gold; a place where every night brought with it a new opportunity for a cultural outing; a new excuse for a bottle of bubbles with friends (I did far more of the latter than the former) I distinctly remember meeting a friend of a friend for the aforementioned bottle of fizz one Thursday night at a rustic bar in central Sydney shortly after I’d just moved down undrr. I recall looking around the bar in both wonderment and confusion, thinking where on earth is everyone? Baffled by the fact that we not only got a table, but that half of them were empty – and it was Thursday – a night in London synonymous with sticky floors, questionable kebabs and many a hangover in offices across the city come Friday – I couldn’t quite get my head around the fact that this was normal for Sydney.
But get used to it I did, and soon I accustomed to the somewhat drastic lifestyle change that came with moving down under. While my weekends in London were spent mainly stumbling home in the early hours of the morning along the gutters of South-West London, I can probably count the amount of times I’ve been home after midnight on two hands since moving to Sydney. And while at first I loathed the early nights; the lack of buzz on the city’s streets, the shortage of places open past 11pm, the almost empty bars and pubs in mid-week Sydney, I soon came to love the alternative; the early mornings, the bonding with friends over yoga (instead of the third round of drinks), the coastal walks; the early nights and the often hangover free weekends.
And thus, while my first impressions of LA were less than favourable, now, just shy of three weeks in to my time here, I’m starting to warm to my new – albeit temporary – home. While the culture shock may have been an altogether different type to the one I experienced when moving down under; there are, of course, similarities; often it can simply be a case of finding one’s rhythm and pace and new way of life when embarking on a new adventure in a new city.
I’m not able to work while I’m here, which means I’ll have ample time to explore the city’s many neighbourhoods – and while a week’s yoga teacher training and this week’s blistering heat have set back my adventurous ambitions – I’ve managed to squeeze in visits to Venice Beach, downtown LA, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood – and in doing so have uncovered bookshops and brunch spots galore.
Unlike Sydney, and the Eastern Suburbs in which I live down under – much of whose social scene revolves around living an active lifestyle and thus doesn’t cater to the nightlife so synonymous with cities like LA and London – the purr of excitement here is tangiable; the bookshops are open late, the pavements are lined with the hum of people, the bars throb with wine and friends and food and laughter every night of the week.
I miss the waves, the water and the friends I have in Bondi, I’m struggling with LA’s stifling and often relentless heat, I will always find the disparity of riches in a city so full of abundance heartbreaking, but I’m beginning to see LA in a new light. As a city that boasts a kaleidoscope of cultures, of people and of places, that so many flock to on a hope and a prayer and a place where people follow their dreams and reach for the stars.