My 2-month poetry-reading tour across the U.S. kicked off last Wednesday in Los Angeles. I’d visited Los Angeles a couple of times before I finally moved and wasn’t too sure that I was going to like it. With a population of 3.8 million, it is the largest city I have lived in. I was dreading its hubbub. In the end, I discovered smaller, peaceful cities on the outskirts and made new friends pretty fast. And that has made all the difference.
I’ve come to love this place. The range of topography in southern California, from mountains and valleys, to forests and flatlands and the ocean, remind me of journeys to similar places in Kenya. The crazy thing is that even the plant life is similar! I keep finding similar trees, flowers and types of grass.
In addition, Los Angeles is also a land of contrasts. Ridiculously rich people can walk into a Mercedes dealership and lay down cold, hard cash for a brand new car. In downtown, just a few blocks from the swanky financial district, one encounters the abject poverty and filth of Skid Row. And then there are the varying degrees of middle-classers.
L.A. is wonderfully international, with lots of ethnic enclaves, like Korea Town, Filipino Town, Little Tokyo, Little Armenia, Chinatown, Little Ethiopia, and more. Another beautiful thing about L.A. is that it is a land of dreams. Many of the people here relocated from other parts of the nation or the world to pursue their (mostly) creative dreams. I enjoy being among so many talented and extremely skilled creative people.