how is it possible to fall in love with a city? i’m enraptured by diversity in look and thought, obsessed with pockets of nature in urban setting. i’m infatuated with human movement and transit and wooed by a confusing balance of beauty and grit. the cacophony of sirens, honking, and yelling serenade me. sometimes all i want is to roam around with the city as my sole companion.
i grew up in the suburbs but my parents have always called me a city girl.
i knew i loved the city but i fully accepted this identifier when i visited a friend in oregon last winter. her parents lived in prineville – one of those small towns where you’d question the ability of your neighbors to hear you scream. prineville was cold and beautiful the whole week and i was lethargic and grumpy. but when we passed the first car garage after a frozen, pothole-infested, 8-hour bus ride, my heart skipped a beat. high rises loomed, the stars disappeared, LED lights took the reigns, and i knew something in me belonged there – even though it was my first time in portland.
but portland, oregon was a little strange and the brief, hipster one-night stand was enough to satisfy me. we flew back to my main ho: sunny long beach, california and i was reminded why i’ve chosen to live with him.
i enjoy most cities, i love a chosen few, but i’m absolutely, positively head over heels in love with the city of long beach. long beach feels like a metropolis with the DNA of a small town. plus, you’re never more than half an hour away from the beach – with traffic.
i’ve lived in long beach for four and a half years and it continues to charm and entice me with its diversity in look and thought. you can be on broadway in the colorful LGBTQ+ quarter, walk a block to hippies on the bluff, walk a couple more blocks downtown towards business(wo)men in suits meeting in fancy gastropubs, drive ten minutes to eat amazing, authentic tacos, and then drive another five minutes to see rich, conservative socialites walk their teacup dogs in 50’s-esque neighborhoods.
the pockets of nature and glimpses of art within the urban setting of long beach are breathtaking. long beach is home to a winding strip of beach, a beautiful green bluff, huge parks, numerous museums, an aquarium (of which i am a member!), guerrilla gardens, and graffiti art so beautiful it distracts from the road.
and though it may sometimes be flawed, i’m infatuated with long beach transit – buses, bike lanes, and running paths. the lack of left turn lights. first fridays, fourth fridays, yoga on the bluff, movies on the beach, the urban hive, farmers markets – human movement and small town gathering in this big city is fascinating.
long beach is overflowing with art, intelligence, talent, grit, and a deep-rooted sense of home. it’s a confusing but gorgeous balance.
this winter, i took a week-long solo trip to be with my side bae – manhattan, new york city, new york. i told you, i love long beach. but manhattan was my first love and he continues to pursue me from afar. the most tempting allure of new york city is the constant contrast of manmade structure and nature. he seduces through the rugged choreography of greenery inexplicably inseparable from the systematically manufactured structures. the perfectly straight lines of a high rise integrated with the convoluted curves of a tree implores me to stop and drink in its beauty.
something about new york changes me into the woman i sometimes wish i was. assertive, confident, strong. someone who knows what she wants, with no more f’s to give. but then i remember who i really want to be and who i want to be with. give me all those things, with the grounded feeling of home. give me soft compassion to match my fiery passion. give me the chaos of traffic as well as an open space to feel the sand in my toes and sun on my back.
manhattan begged that i stay but i knew the affair had to end. i’ve tried out many cities but long beach waits patiently with fresh tacos, knowing i’ll always come home.
title credits: samicase.com