One thing that Northern Californians don't appreciate is the personality of a city. You can spend the rest of your life moving from one big city to the next in whatever order you'd choose and you won't find another city cut from the same mould as LA. It isn't Paris, although it's spread out like Paris. It lacks the raw efficiency of San Francisco, cut out of their little peninsula. It lacks the roundabouts and highways of London and the traffic grids of Berlin, having leapt out of engineers minds.
Yeah, you can point at the smog and say it'll kill you to live there. Of course, it'll kill you to live anywhere, and we don't really know what it is that makes us live that long. Compared to how it was in the 50s, everyone in LA drives a hybrid, recycles religiously, and lay all manner of personal sacrifices on the altar of rampant environmentalism. Compared to the age of incinerators, everyone in LA pulls together and pushes beached whales back into the ocean.
The thing is about love is that it's not a matter of loving someone for all the good things they do to you. A significant other that makes the world's best hamburgers and has one waiting for you every Monday when you get home from work isn't love. Love is someone that you love spending time with, but becomes a real USDA-Certified Grade A bitch when you can't see through the fog of your passions and argue about who should be doing the dishes. Love is someone with whom you share the best and the worst of times with. Love is someone who causes both the best and the worst of times in a beautiful, synchronized dance of the fates and furies. They lift you higher. They push you off those cliffs too. And even though in your heart of emo hearts, it's the same as them beating the shit out of you, you know that it's trivial and that the goods outweigh the bads and that you can't blame them because you trust them. Cities love you like that, and in turn, you learn to love them.
Give me the smog. Take the 1/3 of my lungs that TV commercials claimed I lost by growing up in LA. Give me the traffic during rush hour, but also give me the sweet, sweet drive that is Sepulveda at 3am at night, drifting through turns, and getting the shit scared out of you by coyotes that no Greenpeacer'll ever admit exist in LA. Give me the Mexican ghettos, the billboards you can't read, the illegal immigrants who smack your car and leave you in a heap of self-pity and financial problems without the benefit of that legally mandated safety net called insurance. But give me those french dips at Felipe's, the pasta at Maria's, the luxurious dinners at the Odyssey, and watching the sunrise on Santa Monica pier with an egg sandwich handed to you by a guy from a cart just moments before.
I'd sell my soul to be back there right now with my nice, cushy job. Alas.