I just got into L.A. today. I didn’t sleep all night last night while packing, so I slept on the plane a bit, since and then I saw the movie “The Holiday,” with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz on my personal TV screen. I wasn’t sure if I should see it — it was the best option, but I was thinking that instead I should maybe read the book “Story” by Robert McKee, the screenwriter’s bible — isn’t that what I should be reading on my big trip to L.A., instead of some mediocre movie? But I decided I’m a fan of romantic comedies and the movie’s director, Nancy Meyers, so why not. And at the beginning of the movie, my mind was wandering, but it ended up being unexpectedly relevant and moving, given my current situation. Basically Cameron Diaz meets Kate Winslet in a house-swapping vacation website and Cameron goes to Kate’s house in the English countryside middle of nowhere while Kate goes to Cameron’s house in L.A. In the Kate story, she’s discovering LA and meets this old (fictional) screenwriter who used to be really famous, and eventually encourages him to agree to have this big Writers Guild event honoring him, and he’s very moved by it, and it is pretty moving, and of course, it happened to relate to my new life as a writer in L.A. By the end of the movie, we were flying over L.A. and I was watching the sunset, not recognizing any parts of the city.
Moving to L.A. — moving to a new place in general — feels stranger than expected. Who do I see tomorrow? The next day? Do I hang out with people I know already from college or other places who happen to live here? Is it possible to join someone’s group of friends? What makes them decide to let me in? If can’t join a group, how do new groups of friends get formed? Back in New York, what did I do, if anything, to help new New Yorkers adjust to life in a new place? Looking back, I think my own experience being new in New York was pretty easy – my roommates were college friends, I had college and high school friends all around town. And I had lived in the city the previous summer. In L.A., I don’t know any bars. I don’t even know an acceptable place to go to dinner. If I suggest a dinner place, how do I know what that place’s true reputation is. Even if it looks good in a guidebook, maybe it’s actually so touristy or crowded or played out that no one I know would ever go there.