I am Thirty Miles East

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  • January 3, 2014

The featured image was taken by me at the BWI train station in Linthecum, Maryland.

Life Thirty Miles East of Los Angeles can seem like a different planet. Hell, any place out of the heart of L.A. can seems like Mars. Just ask those who live Downtown or in Hollywood. To them, we’re living in an alternate universe. Are we really that different though? Never mind that we share the same freeway woes, the same fake tans, the same pretentious latte orders or the same valley girl accent stereotypes. We even share the same kind of hipsters. Take a stroll through Claremont, my friends (34.8 miles east). These hipsters give Silverlake (5.2 miles north) a run for it’s money. It’s all the same, just a different geographical location. The amazing part about the unintentional melding of our Angeleno identity is when you visit other parts of the US. It’s not until then you realize how “L.A.” you are. Whether those in Downtown like it or not, we’re very much the same. Even those 30 miles east.

I’ll never forget my very first trip Back East. I tagged along on my husband’s business trip to Baltimore (2,647 miles east). While he was at a conference, I worked up the courage to take the public transportation system. Something that is horribly lacking in LA (I’ll save that rant for another day). I hopped on a train headed to Washington D.C. (2, 669 miles east). Exploring the Nation’s Capital on my own was a ballsy move indeed, but I’ve been lost in Compton and East LA many times. Not much frightens me. Anyway, I digress. I stopped at merchant stand in Union Station. Which was probably my first tourist mistake. I politely ask merchant man about the ease of trekking to the Smithsonian on foot. The vendor blurts, “Ah, a California girl! L.A.? Yes?”. My internal knee jerk reaction was not pleasant. I asked about the Smithsonian, Mr. Vendor. I mean, do I have valley girl tattooed on my forehead or something? Do I, like totally sound, like I’m like totally lost? Do I reek of the L.A. river? What the? Now, I’m guessing Mr. Vendor was expecting me to start blowing bubbles with my chewing gum while twirling my hair in response to his assumptions. You’ve got the wrong woman, buddy. I apathetically answer: “What makes you think I’m from L.A.?”. Mr. Vendor replies, “Your accent sweetheart. And, I can spot a California girl from a mile away”. Stereotyping and objectifying. This guy was on a roll. Considering I was all alone in a strange city, I figured I’d keep my snarky pseudo-feminist and anti-stereotyping prattles to myself. My reply, “Well, I guess you’ve got me all figured out”. I left for the exit in wonderment. Does the rest of the D.C. population see a walking Hollywood sign right now? I exited Union Station and physically choked on the infamous east coast humidity. The asphyxiation via humidity immediately reminded me of just how amazing life in Southern California really is. As my lungs adjusted, I walked to one of the many parts of the Smithsonian, still bothered. A million thoughts ran through my head. What exactly is a “California Girl” anyway? I immediately placed blame on the Beach Boys. They did this. Their damn song led to the stereotyping of women in California. We’re all Pamela Anderson types with sun damaged brains. The internal battle continued. How could I possibly personify the California Girl stereotype? I do not have a tan, I do not have blonde hair. Nor do I have blue eyes and long sleek legs. I’m a pale, short Mexican with brown hair and brown eyes. Perplexing to say the least. This whole “California Girl” thing really put a damper on my feeble attempt at posing like a well cultured and seasoned traveler (even though I wasn’t). I became increasingly aware of how alien Angelenos are to everyone else outside of the 4,083 square miles that make up L.A. The more I travel, the more I am aware of my alien L.A. citizenship. But, the older I get, the less it bothers me. It’s become quite amusing, actually. I’m even more amused when I tell people that I really don’t live in Los Angeles per se. I’m Thirty Miles East of Los Angeles. Proud of it, too.

  While writing, I was listening to:

Huggin & Kissin by Big Black Delta

As far as I can see by Phantogram

Governing Correctly by Brenton

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