There are certain triggers that remind me of the fourteen years I spent near Los Angeles. It's comforting to drive down the familiar roads with the familiar sights, sounds and smells. Okay, maybe "comforting" is the wrong word—I hate driving in Glendale—but there is something to be said about knowing that I will, indeed, slam on my breaks at some point any time I turn on my car.
Without further ado, I give you the five signs you're in Southern California:
Between the police helicopters with their beam of light stirring up the city, the news choppers reporting on the traffic, and the occasional fire helicopter, there's always one flying around somewhere. I can't imagine an L.A. without that thudding, humming sound as white noise.
2. Freeways, freeways, and more freeways. Particularly the East L.A. interchange,
(Hey tunnels, nice new lights on the ground there for the left lane. Very fancy. Still not much of a deterrent for people to cut over at the last minute. However—I applaud the effort.)
and pretty much anywhere on the 405.
Other places just don't do traffic like Los Angeles does. It's amazingly well-coordinated. Crazy, but coordinated.
3. Some people would claim palm trees as the symbol of the southland, but to me, it's all about the eucalyptus trees. These tall, smooth-barked, Dr. Seuss beauties are everywhere. They line the freeways.
The herb-like scent of eucalyptus carried on a post-rain breeze is intoxicating.
4. Curb-side sellers of oranges and flowers
On our recent trip to Los Angeles, I wanted to get a picture of one of the guys hawking flowers or oranges. I got lucky and found a man who was selling both.
I can't think of a time that I've ever actually purchased something from one of these vendors.
5. Words everywhere. Billboards on top of apartment buildings on top of ridges on top of more houses and more signs, with a smattering of graffiti thrown in there somewhere.
I don't know what it is about this color combination on the apartment building—with the beige stucco walls and the painted green roof—but it's everywhere. Oh, and hey, there's even a eucalyptus tree in that shot.
I can't say that I miss all of the sensory overload of the Southland. It's nice to visit, but in the end, I love coming home to my quiet house. I love not having to worry about my children running into a busy street. I love that the freeways, though crowded at times, are not a crazy, convoluted, hyperactive mess. I love that I can see ground that's not in the confines of a cement curb.
Now, if we could just do something about that train that wakes the baby up and the annoyingly loud stunt airplane guy who flies for hours on the weekends...