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Quakes, smog, riots, traffic, carjackings, the recession, troubled schools, beautiful--but shallow--people . . . These days, everybody loves to bash our city. So we asked a few Angelenos (the famous and the not): If things are so bad . . . : Why Stay in L.A.?

April 04, 1993|Robin Abcarian | Robin Abcarian's column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in View.

I had my epiphany on the Santa Monica Freeway.

It was the end of the day. I was heading toward the beach from downtown. That big stand of palms north of the freeway near the Normandie exit looked like a prehistoric forest, and Century City's glass towers shimmered pink and green like an oil slick after a light rain.

Homes strewn across the mountains, so often shrouded in smoggy beige, stood out in exquisite relief. The sky was exceptionally clear. And the sun was a glowing ball of orange, sinking slowly behind the horizon.

The sun, in fact, was moving faster than the traffic.

My radio was off and my car had come to a full stop. Cars in front, cars behind. The freeway was a parking lot. And all I could think was, God, I really love it here .

My own private rush hour.

I love it here because I was finally home after living three years in a place where snow is not unheard of in May. I love it here because my tulips bloom in February.

I love L.A. because I grew up here and because it is imprinted on me the way a mother mallard is imprinted on her fuzzy ducklings.

A lot of what I love about L.A. doesn't exist anymore, but memories are Krazy Glue for the brain--they keep you stuck on a place. So, I still love Pacific Ocean Park, Saturday trips to White Front and sliding down the muddy gutters of Reseda Boulevard on a rainy day before they finished construction of the railroad overpass.

I love the way tumbleweeds used to blow across my schoolyard during recess.

I love how we used to scramble around the rocks in Chatsworth Park and at Leo Carillo State Beach.

I love driving by the Hollywood Bowl because it reminds me of being 14, of the first rock concert I ever went to--Donovan in 1970--and of blueberry yogurt, which is what we ate after some hippie passed us a joint.

I love the way you can feel the climates collide when you drive through Malibu Canyon from the beach to the Valley in August. If you stick your hand out the window just as the canyon gives way to the flats before the freeway, you can touch the exact spot where the cool ocean air hits the furnace blast.

Sometimes I dream about leaving L.A.

But I know I'll stay.

It's the only place I've ever known a traffic jam to be transcendental.

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