There’s something odd about Los Angeles, something I’ve come to fully appreciate only now that I’m moving away. Time passes differently here. Of course, the human perception of time is always malleable and subjective. Time flies when you’re having fun while a watched pot never seems to boil. It often feels like the pace of time picks up as we grow older and more set in our work and home routines. We ask, How is it June already? And of 2012, no less? Before living here, I knew that our perception of passing time changes from one minute to the next, one day to the next, and certainly one year to the next. But I didn’t know that it changes by area code.
I’ve spent the past five years in LA and the five years prior to that in Boston. While those five years in Boston felt like four years in my subjective perception of time, my five years in Los Angeles felt like nothing. I don’t mean that they passed quickly; I mean that they didn’t seem to elapse at all. In sunny Southern California, each day is nearly identical to the ones before and after. In West LA where I live it’s never too hot or too cold. It never snows and rarely rains. Trees are always green with foliage and some flower or another is always in bloom. Easter feels just Halloween feels just like Christmas. We have only cardboard decorations and the music pumped through speakers at the outdoor malls to tell one holiday from the next. That and the calendar. The changing dates on our datebooks, paychecks, and receipts are a constant if paltry reminder that time marches on.
The timelessness of life in LA can be deeply unnerving, most of all when one looks in the mirror. Although we don’t feel it, time is passing and taking its toll (as does the strong southern sun). Sometimes I wonder if the popularity of plastic surgery out here is more than a consequence of the movie industry. Perhaps people here go under the knife because of how the years can slip away, unnoticed and unmourned. They shouldn’t be older, yet clearly they are. Time passes with or without our knowledge and consent.
Right now my husband and I are in the midst of a big transition. Our belongings are already en route to Michigan, our new home. We are headed back to a land that has weather, for better or for worse. Although I’ll miss friends and family in LA, I’m looking forward to experiencing seasons and observing the passage of time. Each day will be part of a season with its own unique temperature and palette of colors. And my daughter will learn the holidays by how they feel – from the blaze of July Fourth to the biting cold of each New Years Day.