Christmas break 2005-2006 was an extremely important time in my life. It was during those few weeks of break from freshman year at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, that a girl I had a really great friendship with suddenly became something a lot more special to me. While I had a moment of epiphany in our relationship during the summer of 2005, we had chosen to go to college in different cities and so our blossoming friendship didn’t become a budding romance until that fateful Christmas break.
I really can’t explain what changed or how it happened. I guess it was just that first little slip that quickly turns into a head over heals fall into love. While all the pieces had been in place for months, it was the first time I let myself acknowledge that there was something really special about this particular girl. I’m hard pressed to think of a more wonderful and overwhelming feeling then the recognition of that “something special” and the excitement of pursuing it.
Five years later, I’m two years into an amazing marriage with the girl of my dreams and we have never been happier. While I could write a book about our fairy tale romance, that is not the reason I’m writing this post. Instead, I bring up that Christmas break to make an analogy to another feeling that I experienced this weekend.
Before I get to my point I need to make a quick disclaimer. I believe that few feelings will ever come close to the feeling of falling in love with the woman of my dreams. I will never ever have that same feeling for another human being as long as Melissa and I both live on this earth. I’m very thankful for that fact and I expect many greater and richer moments lie ahead of us in our marriage and life together. Now back to the point…
My wife and I have had an amazing time in our new home of Los Angeles, CA during the last two days and I’m starting to realize that there is “something special” about this city. It’s not the glitz and glam of Hollywood. It’s not the crazy madness of Venice Beach. It’s definitely not the pomp and consumer-stance of Beverly Hills. It’s not even that West Coast “chill” that you feel cruising down the PCH. I don’t know how to describe the feeling so instead I will just describe the circumstances surrounding it and let you fill in rest.
Friday evening I got off work a little early and we rented and watched a movie (Valentines Day) together in our cozy living room. It’s a pretty lame movie, but it’s set in L.A. and features various neighborhoods around the city.
Then Saturday morning, I had to take my car in for some exhaust work and ended up at a beat down muffler shop that doesn’t seem to see much traffic. However, the owner was an extremely kind older gentlemen clearly working hard to make a living. He got my car patched up and sent me on my way 20 minutes later.
Saturday afternoon we spent hanging out on beautiful Santa Monica beach taking in the beauty of the ocean, the sun and the pier. We relaxed and enjoyed observing the various families and groups of people around us enjoying that famous west coast lifestyle.
Saturday evening we ventured up to the Getty Center in northern Los Angeles to see the band Dawes play a live set in the museum courtyard. While traffic and parking were, stereotypically, a nightmare, the experience was amazing. The weather, the art, the architecture, the view, the energy, the music and the crowd all came together to make the evening a magical experience. The band Dawes is from California and calls Los Angeles their home. In many ways the show was a home-coming of types for them and that was very apparent in their performance.
Sunday morning we decided to try out a new church. We are still in the process of finding a church home here in LA and someone had recommended we check out this new church. We got up early so we could make the first service at 9am. We have visited several churches since we’ve been here and so far we have really liked all of them. However, this church was just something really special. Melissa and both come out of the service completely uplifted, challenged and encouraged. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of the work God is doing in this city and to fellowship with others who have been called to bear witness to the Gospel in Los Angeles.
All of these experiences have culminated together and have left me feeling like there is something really special about this city. It is a feeling of discovery and excitement. It’s also a feeling of compassion and angst. It’s a beautiful mix of feelings and that is what brought to mind the Christmas break story.
Now before you object, let me address the obvious. It’s one of the most notoriously infamous cities in the world. It’s known as the epicenter of western culture and the source of so much of what is wrong with that culture. It’s known for bad traffic, high crime rates, high cost of living, high taxes and so many other negative things. Personally, I did not come to LA with any star-struck notions of “living the dream” on the “boulevard of dreams.” Quite honestly, I expected to hate this city. My Midwest upbringing had given me a 23-year long running prejudice against Los Angeles. I can’t even count the number of people that said negative things about the city in response to hearing that we were moving here. I don’t blame them either, I was in the same boat. I still completely understand why so many people talk negatively about this city. All the bad press is not just hype and its not just mid-westerners who smack talk about L.A. I’ve encountered more than a few natives who have expressed disdain for this place they call home. As I speak, there is a news story on TV about a gang shooting at a church in long beach that took place last night. It really is in every way a VERY broken city. Yet, I think that’s part of what I find special about it.
All this to say, I’m starting to understand that there really is “something special” about Los Angeles and for however long we are here, I’m going to take it in and enjoy all that it has to offer. I have no idea where life will take us in the future. I do know that I feel very blessed to be spending this season of our lives amongst the people of Los Angeles, CA.
As I end this post, I feel compelled to express that I will always have mad love for my hometown of La Crosse, WI. I truly believe it is one of the best cities in the entire world to grow up in and I have yet to find a more beautiful, comfortable, friendly, safe, fun place on this earth. I’m not dumping La Crosse. I guess I am just not a one-city man.