Apr 24th, 2020, 11:44 PM

Dear Los Angeles...

By Jenna Galowich
Beverly Hills, Image Credit: Jenna Galowich
“City of stars, Are you shining just for me? City of stars, There’s so much that I can’t see, Who knows? Is this the start of something wonderful and new? Or one more dream that I cannot make true?”

Since the California Gold Rush almost 200 years ago, many wide-eyed hopefuls have made their way out to the golden coast of the United States from all around the world in the hopes of striking it big. Los Angeles has always been a symbol of hope, opportunity, and luck...for those who are able to come out on the other side alive, that is. Just as much as Los Angeles is known for its shiny, glimmering opportunities, it’s also known for, well, shaking up the world of its inhabitants; whether by its infamous earthquakes or being eaten alive by the shark-like entertainment industry. 

As I inch closer and closer towards graduating from college in t-2 weeks, I’ve reflected back on this chapter of my life: my childhood. Graduating from university is far more than just finishing up my academic career, it is the end of an era. It is the end of my childhood. One thing that I've thought a lot about is how badly I wanted to move to Los Angeles full-time when I was a child, the fact that I made it happen by attending Loyola Marymount University for my first two years of undergrad, and how horribly, beautifully wrong my time there went. 

Sunset at Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, CA, Image Credit: Jenna Galowich


My LA story started when I was a child. I grew up spending a lot of time there since my entire family resided in California. In many ways, Los Angeles felt just as home-y to me as Chicago did. LA was my hideaway during what was a rather tumultuous childhood. It was where I went when I needed an escape from my reality, when I needed to be surrounded by people who had their head in the clouds just as much as I did, and were just as disconnected from reality as I was. I fell in love with the cotton candy sunsets, the sunny disposition that everyone seemed to have, the fact that everyone walked around as if they didn’t have a care in the world, and the fact that my troubles seemed as few and sparse as there were clouds in the sky. Of course, it’s easy to say that when you’re a child and you have no real responsibilities, but in many ways, it felt like I had already had all of these grown up experiences that most kids my age didn’t even experience until they were 18+. But I was so enamored with this lifestyle that it made those troubles seem irrelevant. I was yearning to live full-time in this city of stars. I wanted to move there permanently. 

The summer after I graduated from high school, I moved to the Los Angeles suburb Palos Verdes full-time before the start of college. My dream had finally come true; I was working part-time at a clothing store in Santa Monica, spent my days cuddling with my dogs whenever I wasn’t working, and spent my nights going out on the town and exploring with friends what had now officially become my new city. It felt like I had finally found my city after being moved around to three different places within the span of two years. I was dreading going off to Washington, D.C. for university, until I got the magic call from the Loyola Marymount University Office of Admissions… I had gotten in off the waitlist three weeks before I was supposed to move to D.C. 

Sunset at Palos Verdes Cliffs, Image Credit: Jenna Galowich


So I followed my heart and stayed. What could possibly go wrong? Los Angeles was my soul city after all… well, or so I thought. What started as innocent summer evenings with friends at the Santa Monica Pier turned into long nights out in West Hollywood, the nightclub capital of Los Angeles. I couldn’t have been less interested in my university work, or any part of my real life to be honest. I was so busy living in this fantasyland of Hollywood, glamour, excess and luster that I totally zoned out of reality and couldn’t have had less of an interest in it. I had fallen down the rabbithole of this façade of all the “wonderful things LA had to offer”, and there was no ladder in sight to climb back out of it. 

Personal Photo of My Dogs, Image Credit: Jenna Galowich


My grandiose LA dream became a nightmare. I failed two classes, worried my family sick, and became friends with people who had absolutely no interest in pushing me to succeed. In fact, it was quite the opposite. They say that misery loves company, and that couldn’t be more true as to the unhappy, restless souls in LA's party scene. Everything I had fallen in love with LA for, mainly it being my escape from reality, eventually became my downfall. I, along with other LA residents, was living in this alternate reality that just wasn’t real. So much of my life was fake, from the friendships to everyone’s faces and bodies (no shade at all to anyone who has ever gotten plastic surgery done). I knew I wanted something more, and that there was more out there for me. It was time for me to face reality, whatever that may look like for me, and embrace all that it encompassed. I decided it was time for me to get out of there and try to find my next city, and I landed in Paris (via Rome).

Los Angeles may not have been my city of stars. Maybe I was even one of the people who went there, with a heart full of dreams and ambition, only to get chewed up and spit out by the city. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade my experience there for anything in the world. Because of LA, I am the woman that I am today. I learned so much about myself that I would’ve never learned anywhere else in the world. I still love returning home to Palos Verdes, where my three loving dogs live, and going to some of the same places and meeting up with the wonderful lifelong friends that I met during my time living full-time there. But I enjoy my brief escape from reality versus living in it constantly. In LA I tried to escape reality, in Paris I learned to love it.