When I was 16, I loved the Los Angeles sun. In the summer, I'd lie for hours on our dichondra lawn in the teeny, blue-flowered bikini I sewed myself, slather on Bain de Soleil and listen to 93 KHJ on my yellow plastic Toot-A-Loop radio. If I got too hot, I'd mist myself with a spray bottle and just keep on baking.
As you can probably guess from that description, I'm not 16 anymore. As I got older, I found the monotony of the sunny days both bored and unnerved me. The sky flat blue from the moment you opened your eyes until dark. It seemed unnatural, and really annoying if you were trapped in an office all day.
I longed for variety, for drizzly winter mornings and cloud-spotted sunsets. I wanted weather.
A decade ago, in my mid-30s, I moved with my husband and then-2-year-old son to an island west of Seattle. I still frequently visit L.A., though, and spending time away from it has given me a new perspective on its ever-present sunlight--which no, I don't miss even in winter.
Now I think L.A. is lighted exactly right for the glamorous movie town that it is. In fact, the Southern California sun created L.A. as we know it. The reliable sunshine helped draw the budding moguls west from colder New York to create Hollywood. The rest of the town and its culture were born from this world of movie artifice. If you think of the city's natural light as illuminating one big movie set--and isn't it?--then L.A. looks like a big-budget studio picture. Every scene is overexposed, unsubtle, colors either washed out or unnaturally bright. The urges to buff up, show some skin, look young, get that face-lift--they all stem from life in the sunny spotlight. Surfaces seem important when you know they'll be viewed under that unrelenting glare.