L.A. swept me off my feet. Literally. I didn’t really know what to expect. Some said it was just a dizzying megalopolis. Some others pointed out that there’s no city center, just neighborhoods sitting close to each other, with an actual highway running in the middle of the city. Someone simply said: “L.A., it’s love or hate. You’ll see for yourself”. I did.
It’s the largest city I’ve ever visited, true. It’s noisy and dizzying and somehow confusing and there is a highway in the middle, also true. But I never felt as alive and curious and charmed and with both my feet on the ground as I did these past few days. I could move tomorrow, without hesitation. It’s as vibrant as New York (my first love) but crazier, larger, warmer and way more relaxed.
Yesterday I had the ultimate cultural experience going to a basketball game at the Staples Center. L.A. Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns. I am not a fan of basket and I guess the last time I was forced to watch a game on tv Michael Jordan was playing. Some 20 years ago? I was in high school and had a boyfriend who was basically a Jordan groupie. I don’t know the rules, I even ignored how long a game is supposed to last. But we had tickets and it sounded fun. We sat down and Husband started bothering all of our neighbors asking questions about the team, the players, the rules, the NBA and so on. One guy turned him down, giving evasive answers first and then turning on the other side. The guy sitting behind us took the burden to explain that all. Poor chap.
The game ended 126-101 for the Clippers but it turned out it’s just a detail. A game is a real show where three hours went by way faster than watching a 007 movie and where every single minute something happens. Beside the game. It started with the choir of some high school around L.A. singing the national anthem. The whole public standing up. Players composed, straight. Do they sing the national anthem before any national game? Unthinkable in Italy where there was an endless discussion, years ago, because our national team didn’t sing the national anthem at the world cup. Since then, a few player can be seen mumbling on tv. Lips don’t necessarily match words, though.
Kiss cam, noise meter, songs requested on twitter, sms displayed on the big screen, awesome filming and montage, constant music during the game. I’ve never seen anything like that.
Half-time and two teams of 6 years old enter the floor and start having their own game. I was so moved I had to discreetly wipe a few tears off my cheeks. Husband and I were struck by the positive approach. Everyone’s part of the show, everyone gets his chance to a minute of celebrity. Europe and its cold cynicism seems a 1000 light-years away. There’s no tension as there is in (european) soccer. Couldn’t they just build a show around soccer as well? That would maybe reduce the violence around the game.
I’ll go back to the Old Continent tomorrow at dawn. It will be an hard landing. Freezing boring Belgium again and then the return to motherhood. I missed the children a lot but at the same time it felt good having the time to think, to explore, to live without constantly caring for basic needs: food, clothes, sleep. Bye bye L.A., you have a place in my heart now.