Los Angeles: The City Frozen In Time

…and what I learned going back.

“Who would want to read about my mental & emotional rollercoaster visiting my old city for the first time since moving to Tulsa?” Uh… me! I would love to read about someone else’s relatable experience. This is the definition of life!

My husband Jordan and I moved from Los Angeles to Tulsa about 1.5 years ago. I lived in L.A. for about a decade so… basically all of my 20s. It was a culture shock moving to Tulsa. Honestly, it still very much is. If you’ve lived in L.A. for a good few years, you find interacting with people isn’t the same anywhere else. It is its own society, its own world.
We moved to Tulsa because, after the pandemic, Los Angeles just wasn’t serving me anymore. What does that mean? I was having hella horrible anxiety/panic attacks, depression, etc. toward the end of my time there.

The beginning of my decade-long tenure in the city was an exciting, new, fun challenge. The end made me realize that what I wanted to accomplish in this city wouldn’t be possible, such as buying a house, mentally & emotionally having the space to start my clothing business, etc. 

So we moved!

And we bought a house in Tulsa (which btw, living in my own space not attached to others has been the biggest most positive blessing to me – I will never take this for granted). We took time recuperating from a city that forced us to only survive, not thrive. We needed our LIVES back. And we got it… in Tulsa! During our 1.5 years here, we’ve met some great friends who also moved from Los Angeles or other mega-cities through the Tulsa Remote program that was on the same path as us. And as time went by in Tulsa, we were reminded of how much pain L.A. caused us, in the end, every time we brought it up. At that point, I wondered if L.A. was still a place I would ever call home again in the future. We have so many close friends there, and frankly, there has always been a deep tie to the city in my soul. Something I thought was only there because of how long I lived there.

“I was mentally preparing for a month… but I loved every second of the anticipation.”

Well, lucky for me, my best friend announced she was getting married in the Santa Monica Mountains Memorial Weekend of 2023. So whether we liked it or not, we were forced to go on this emotional rollercoaster of visiting our old stomping grounds. I was mentally preparing for a month… but I loved every second of the anticipation.

When I used to live in L.A., every time I’d fly to a different city to visit family or on business, I’d get anxious on the flight back. It isn’t a relaxing feeling flying into Los Angeles. Quite the opposite. The city is constantly going, and you feel like you are landing in a city where you have to run so fast to catch up to the pace of it’s hamster wheel working a job you don’t like just to survive… it’s deeply exhausting. This trip, it was nice to feel a lack of anxiety. Maybe that’s because this was the first time I’ve flown into the city on vacation, not as a resident. It was easy. We had money saved for this trip, and it was nice. Maybe all of these factors added up to such a positive mindset flying into BUR airport. Regardless, it was a nice surprise.

As we rented our Tesla (which is so much cheaper than a gas car, and much nicer too), our drive through our old neighborhoods, local coffee shops, and even new spots in L.A. was like being at home but in the best way. Comforting, slightly calming… ironically, and ultimately giving us major falling-in-love emotions with the city. To be frank, I never really felt these feelings during my time living here until I was a handful of years in. Sometimes things don’t have to be as romantic as you build them up in your head to be.

Returning to a city that amplifies your character flaws & attributes, I was pleasantly and surprisingly hit with a wave of pride. Over the 1.5 years in Tulsa, I have gained a lot of internal strength, especially in who I am as a person, and worked to get my personality back. I didn’t have that as a 20-something Angeleno. I was telling Jordan while walking the streets of Abbott Kinney with a Blue Bottle drink in hand how proud I am of myself. For the first time possibly ever, I felt really solid in who I was, how I view the world, and how I treat people. I have a solid foundation of who I am and my ever-growing I-don’t-give-a-fuck-what-people-think-of-me practice that the city confirmed in me. This was the moment that made me realize how healthy I am mentally. 

Another thing I need to note and is the reason for the title of this blog post: it was strange to see how 1.5 years later, the city was exactly the same. Each part of L.A. was the same, the businesses were the same, the feel of the city was the same, and the weather was the same (besides the constant gloom which I have to admit, I loved). It’s like no time passed at all. I’m still not sure if this is a good or bad thing. In Tulsa, things are changing and growing at such a rapid pace that I have gotten used to the feeling of growth in a city.

So now that we’ve been back in the Midwest for a week, the question we get the most is “So are you moving back?” 

As someone who lived in the San Fernando Valley for her 20s, this trip reminded me to never move back there… 

but that doesn’t mean we won’t move to the west side (beach side). 😉

During our trip, Jordan and I really fell in love with Venice. We had never spent much time on the west side before this trip. There’s a joke that if you live in L.A. but not near the beach, you never go to the beach even though you live just a few miles from it. Although i’m not an actual “beach girl” that wants to live on the sand, I am a “beach girl” in the inner sense of the word.
— side note: sometimes I think understanding yourself in many little ways like this helps provide clarity into why you make certain choices in life. —
Whenever we decide to move back even in a hybrid-living situation (i.e. 9 months in Tulsa, 3 months in L.A.), it will definitely not be in the valley. 

But for now, we are still rooting ourselves in Tulsa. As someone who has lived in multiple places for long periods of time (Dallas, OKC, L.A., Tulsa), there’s something important to learn about living in new places. You don’t start getting the full experience of a place until you’ve lived there for at least two years, at five years you become one of the locals, and anything after that forever engrains the culture of the city into the fabric of your being. Keep traveling the world when you can, gain inspiration and introspection of yourself, because your community needs the best version of you.

Much love,
Laura Landers

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