Well, the date is set. Moving boxes acquired. Bids and estimates from all kinds of movers are coming in – full service, self-move, truck rental… Pods. After 15 plus years gone, we are leaving Los Angeles and returning to Buffalo. Now, you might just be wondering… why? Why would anyone want to leave the Golden State, the City of Angels, Hollywoodland and move back to… Buffalo? There are many reasons, most of which are known to those who choose to still live there and those who have also chosen to return. The culture. The art. The music. The affordability. The lifestyle such a city can furnish. A life slowed down enough to enjoy. Hell, on one of our most recent visits, when our luggage was left behind in D.C. and the airline said they’d deliver it to us three hours later even though it had arrived in Buffalo only an hour behind us, we just HOPPED into the rental car and cruised back out to the airport to pick it up! It took all of thirty minutes. THAT just ain’t happening in L.A.
What surprised me is not the reaction from people there (in Buffalo), but the reaction from people HERE. And not just from folks that are familiar with the City of Buffalo (although, anyone who knows me well at all has been subjected to a breadth of Queen City knowledge, albeit reluctantly), but a wide variety of people – natives and not. The primary reaction has been -“I understand.” And that surprised me.
Los Angeles is a tough, HARD, place to live. Everything, and I mean everything, requires an abnormal level of commitment. Even a short journey of a few blocks (in the car, of course) to the local supermarket is an endurance test of epic proportions. There are so many people doing so many things and so very few of them are paying attention while they do them. Now, this pattern may be present elsewhere around the country. I’m sure it is. But when you have such a high concentration of people, as L.A. does, then you are exposed to it at a greater level. It’s not driving, it’s “Survivor” on wheels. And that is just one small example. L.A. is a transient place. Nothing is sacred – older, lovely buildings are torn down to make way for monstrous condos or apartment buildings or mini-malls populated with nail salons and Papa John’s on a daily basis.
And this sense of temporariness is felt in the population as well. People come, people go – very quickly. And because of that impermanency there is a distrust, a coldness, between people – a cold that is deeper than the worst Buffalo winter. It has taken us eleven years to build even a modicum of ‘neighborly’ feeling where we live – something that is almost instantaneously inherent to a place like Buffalo. And it is stain glass fragile, at best. Nothing here is built, or meant, to last. Like the industry this town is constructed around, most things here are illusion, no substance. And that wears thin – even on those that choose to stay.
When I tell my friends and associates ‘out here’ of our plans there is the aforementioned understanding. But there is something else, oddly enough – there is a hint of envy. Envy that there are places to live other than Los Angeles and that people are taking risks and moving there. That someone is getting… out.
And that is the ‘Why?’ We, my wife and I, are tired of living in a place that represents the exact idealistic opposite of everything we have been taught to believe in and want to return to a place that does – Buffalo! A place of reality, consciousness and, to some extent, good natured humility. A place of neighborhoods and community. A community that we can contribute to, not just take from. A place that at least recognizes the value of the past and revels in a sense of its own history. A place of depth and pride. When was the last time you heard someone say they were proud to be from Los Angeles?
There are places and things and, especially, people that we will miss when we move on. We are leaving comfortable positions – financially – for the utter unknown. And, quite honestly, we are frightened by the whole ball of wax! But we are also excited beyond measure. It is something we HAVE to do. It is time to come home.
There is that t-shirt: Buffalo – The City of No Illusions. And some might think it’s a joke, and it is. But there is also a truth in that statement – an enviable one. One that we want to be part of. A truth that is home – a truth that has a porch. So, here we come, Buffalo! Well, at least until the first snow flies…
** If anyone has a two bedroom apartment on the upper West Side, not far from Guercio’s and Sweetness_7, with hardwood floors and a PORCH available Sept. 1, please let me know! Thanks.