My friend Tresa recently hosted cousins on a weekend visit from Indiana. Her daughter planned a schedule jam-packed with as much Los Angeles spectacle as possible: Hollywood, the Griffith Observatory, Santa Monica, In N’ Out…the typical touristy stuff.
The cousins were dazzled, but they also ooo’ed and ahhh’ed over simpler sights, such as scrolling wrought iron fences, gracefully aged apartment buildings, or whole neighborhoods perched on hillsides.
It made me think of a visitor we had from Kentucky. The very airport he flew into took his breath away. Like Tresa, we took our guest to places that were uniquely L.A. What really impressed him, though, weren’t the sights themselves but the immensity of it all. The enormity of singular spaces; the diversity of people and food and things; the way the air buzzes with giddy energy even through quiet nights.
Tresa and her daughter are planning a trip to Indiana this summer. The cousins say they can’t imagine how they’re supposed to impress people who live in such an exciting place. “Let us relax!” Tresa said.
That. Right there.
I’ve always lived in some or other suburb of Los Angeles. It’s an incredible place, I know! But it’s also expensive and downright exhausting. We Angelinos are probably more impressed with small, simple things than our small-town counterparts. You know what excites us? Trees. Horses. Open spaces. A full night’s sleep. The color green. Rivers that aren’t encased in concrete. Storms. Silence. Affordable housing.
I imagine it’s the same for any workaday person living in a big urban or suburban area. What people from smaller places think of as mundane, we find fascinating. Forget the fancy wrought iron fences…how do you live with NO fences? Aren’t you worried about people coming into your yard? How do you know where your property ends?
And how lucky are you that there’s a creek in your backyard! No, that’s not next to your yard, that’s in your yard; there’s no fence!
What do you mean there’s nothing exciting to do around here? I thought we were gonna play cards and drink beer?
OMG you have a porch swing! Does it work? MOM! C’MERE! They have a porch swing that works!
You are so lucky that you get to drive a half hour to the grocery store. All that scenery, no traffic, no noise…
What the hell is a potato cannon? You let your kids play with that? Waddaya mean your kids built that? Your kids are crazy smart. You are the best parents ever.
You paid how much for this house?!
Quiet. Space. Simplicity. That’s how to impress and Angelino.