Chapter 1: I Hate Chapters But My Editor Says I Need Them
I moved to Alhambra, California, at the age of 22. It was the single biggest adventure of my life. Oh sure, I had been around, even to other countries and continents. But now I was moving. Upending my entire life and location-y comforts for a new city, a new culture, and a new "holy shit this is way more expensive than the Midwest" state.
Alhambra was one of about 10 cities I had identified to move to. Well, I should say LA, since Alhambra is just a 10 minute drive from downtown, but the closer you get to the middle of LA, the more rapidly (and exponentially) property fees rise. LA was what I originally wrote down, but I can tell you any of the cities I had chosen were too expensive to live right downtown in.
Seattle, Austin, Miami, Boston, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Portland, Washington D.C., Albuquerque, and San Francisco. Those were the ten. I wanted to include New York City, but I am too sick of cold and snow. Like, beyond sick. Beyond the point of no return. Beyond the point where I make fun of winter smarmily. I simply hate every bit of it. Which quickly meant i knocked out Boston, too. I don't know how I missed that.
I ended up picking Alhambra, part of the LA metro, for a variety of reasons. It had recently landed on several impressively arbitrary lists involving things like "up-and-coming cities" and "great places to live" and my favorite; "youthful energy." Some other factors came into play, like weather, and demographics.
Alhambra had a major leg-up in demographics that could not be denied. It did not have a lot of white people.
You see, I am a 26 year old white guy. And after spending a quarter of a century watching white guys fuck everything up, and then fuck it up more, I decided that I had had enough of that. They're been at it for hundreds of years now! If nothing else, Hispanics, or African-Americans, or Asians, or Middle-Easterners or something fucking up the world would be a new change of pace. I'd take it! And since it's only been white guys for the last few hundred years, I'm willing to see our current power structures get burned to the ground and lost for good.
Alhambra has a lot of Asians and a lot of Hispanics. It does not have a lot of white people. Now, all I have to do is never watch TV, a movie, play a video game, or read a book, and I can exist in a world free from imperialism and- Jesus Christ our entire government is like one giant amorphous old white guy. Damnit.
I commute to LA for my job. What would be an 8 minute drive in light traffic is about 25-30 minutes in morning rush hour. It could be worse. A lot worse. And on days when the smog is particularly bad, I can sing in relative privacy, as it's hard to see into each other's car from more than a couple car lengths away. I sing in the car a lot. The trick is to have the music loud enough so that it makes your voice sound decent, but not so loud that you can't hear your voice at all.
Alhambra is nice. As nice as any city can be of a country that bombs other countries for a living. I love the diversity, the chaotic entropy. The sights, smells, sounds. I love the lights at night and the sun during the day. I love that my apartment complex has a bunch of people from every which corner of the planet. One apartment has a Malaysian flag hanging out front. Another has a jersey from a Mexican football team (by football I mean soccer) in their front window. Another has some Buddhist trinkets. I could go on.
I even occasionally talk with my neighbors. We play video games sometimes. Some of them try to convert me to football fandom. Some of them like to swap recipes. I can't really find a large disagreement with them. Sometimes, the weight of socializing gets to me, and I want to just hole up in my room for a day or week or millennium, but it's rarely, if ever, a reflection of them, and more of a reflection of me.