Homesick For A Place That Doesn’t Exist

I don’t think about Los Angeles much anymore.

And when I do, it’s not the city I physically experienced, but rather the romanticized one I pieced together through years of watching movies, TV shows, and listening to music about the beautiful, yet fragile place where the sun always shines.

You unpredictably come to mind when I hear a song- a song I never even heard while I was with you- but for some reason reminds me of our imaginary time together. They’re songs full of minor chord viscera. Synthesizers and beats I danced to on the beach, in Hollywood, and in my car before I was ever born.

It brings me to my knees. Every absolute and artificial memory intertwines into a billow of what I no longer know is certain. I take on the emotions of character’s lives I never lived. I experience flashbacks of times I never endured.

I always thought that the day I stopped thinking about Los Angeles would be a sad day.

However, instead of descending in one fell swoop, the omission happened over a period of time, right underneath my nose- and I never even noticed it.
The trace of your body is no longer familiar on my fingertips. Friends mention new restaurants and lounges that I’ve never heard of. The drive through Hollywood heading west towards the ocean has become blurry; the view from Mulholland at night a fog.
Sometimes when I’m laying in bed, I think of the nights I listened to your murmur down below. I try to hear your voice. I look for your emanating glow that once carried me off into a place where I dreamed that you and I could make it work, but I can’t find you. You have left me just like how I left you.
I left you.
I left you and as I watched you grow smaller and smaller in my rear view mirror I cried for all the dreams I lost and all the new ones I was cultivating. I wanted to hold onto the feeling I knew when I first met you- an idealism that I’m never to experience again. I didn’t want to let go of the little girl who thought that the world was good and pure. That people would never try to hurt one another.

That my heart would never be broken.

However, with each mile that I drove further away from you, I became the person I was supposed to be.

I miss you, Los Angeles. I miss my idea of you. Our relationship is now much better since I returned to being the longer of something that is not real.

Are you homesick for a place that doesn’t exist? Do you romanticize periods of time in your life?

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  • Reply Brooke Farmer November 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    I love this post. The reminiscing that you know isn't quite true to life. We all do it. This was beautifully written.

  • Reply Marie November 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I just moved recently from Boston to London and I am having major homesickness, but this post is fantastic. It's so true!

  • Reply Brady November 17, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    love it!

  • Reply Johanna November 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Great post. Exactly how I feel about NYC. Everytime I come back it always feels a lil more distant the memories much harder to recapture. The only thing left to do is live through fragments of nostalgia and hope the feelings you had for a once great love never completely leave you.

  • Reply Tara November 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    There are so many things I have romanticized and left behind that I wish I could regain. It's a devastating feeling, really, and it's easy to become so consumed by nostalgia that you can't even recognize your present anymore. I don't know how to remedy it, but I sure wish I did. Even more, I just wish I could go back.

  • Reply Emily November 17, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    I've lived in London for a year now and I still love it as much as I did as a child. I used to come to London every weekend before I lived here, I don't think I'll ever fall out of love with this city.

  • Reply Benny November 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    I have a theory that people who are prone to nostalgia should never stick around in places where they had formative experiences- particularly ones of the traumatic or disillusioning variety.

    I stayed in my hometown for a long time and it made me nostalgic for a growing-up experience that wasn't mine. I'd see streets that were familiar to me and think of how I didn't appreciate how nice they were when I was younger and for a second I'd feel like I could actually go back.

    Places that were really important to us like that can really fuck with our heads. I think the most jarring thing is the fact that they continue to exist without us! I've seen that feeling in myself and I've seen it in others.

    Sometimes I think that with distance, it can be awesome to visit those places. But sometimes I think that, no matter how much distance you get, they'll still have that strange effect on us.

  • Reply the buzz girl November 17, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Man, I do this ALL THE TIME about my teenage years, now that I'm in college (round 2) and have more adult things to deal with like electricity bills, graduate school, LIFE, and heart break. I think, remember when the 'rents paid for everything and pretty much all I had to do was show up to school on time, not get caught drinking, and be sure to return his class ring when I found someone I thought was cuter? But, now, I remember- you had no idea who you were, under someone else's authority always, you were insecure, awkward, and disrespectful to yourself. That wasn't so great. This isn't so bad! Awesome, thought-provoking post.

  • Reply ISRAEL CARRASCO November 17, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    This is right on about L.A. Henry Rollins wrote a similar piece about L.A being a place where you you hate and love at the same time. According to him it is the only place that is that ellusive. I agree. I grew up in L.A all my life and I hate it most of the times but I keep going there to "relax" and get away. But it no longer feels like home. As shitty as Anaheim is, this is where I now call home.

  • Reply theTsaritsa November 17, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Lovely and poetic. I kinda feel the same way about Philly, though I lived there for the majority of my life.

  • Reply EMQ November 17, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    I've always though that I was saddled with the inability to be nostalgic. I approached leaving…Boyfrends,Little Rock, Columbia, New York, Granada…with serious sense of never looking back. And then I became a mom, and suddenly I'm always looking behind, at the infant, the baby, the toddler that my little girl was, and that she'll never be again. I long for smaller days, while loving her in the moment. It's weird. And nice, to finally take time to experience and love places I've been before.

  • Reply Hipstercrite November 17, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    @Brooke- Thank you lady!

    @Marie- But London is awesome too, right?

    @Brady- Thanks for reading! 🙂

    @Johanna- Thanks Jo. I'm sure NYC is the city of all romanticizing. One day I hope to live there then leave there and write about that too. 😉 Thanks for your retweet today too.

    @Tara- Yep! You said ti perfectly. Do you really want to remedy it though?

    @Emily- That is wonderful when you find a place you love unconditionally. I still hope to visit one day! I'll call you when I do.

    @Benny- Interesting to think about. I wish I had those sort of experiences with where I grew up, but I don't. My childhood was too normal. LA is that for me.

    @Buzz Girl- HA! Yep…the days when things were simpler. When we didn't have an idea of what the real word is like…Those were the days for sure…

    @Israel- Where in LA did you grow up?

    @Tsaritsa- I want to visit Philly so badly. I have this weird feeling that I'll live there one day.

    @EMQ- Wow…to be a mom. I often think about that with my Mom. What it must be like to watch your kids grow up. You can't stop it. I can't stop it. I would give anything to be a kid again and I'm sure my Mom would too. Interesting to think about….thanks for the comment!

  • Reply William November 18, 2010 at 2:35 am

    what can i say?


  • Reply ISRAEL CARRASCO November 18, 2010 at 11:46 am

    I grew up in East L.A near Olympic and Soto but on the weekends I was in the Rampart District by Burlington and 11th place where I chilled at my Grandma's. I used to go to the coffee shops on Vermont and Sunset near echo park. Later I moved to Pico Rivera,CA and then to the OC.

  • Reply Melanie's Randomness November 18, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I used to think that with my ex was the place I was supposed to be. I watched his car leave in my rear view mirror & I knew I was never going to see him again. I used to feel like I was at home with him. Nope. I'm not homesick for him anymore.

    I've lived in the same place for years but when I left it to go Chicago I missed my physical home.

    This post was beautifully written.

    Melanie's Randomness

  • Reply One Blonde Girl November 18, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    This makes me nostalgic for what coulda shoulda woulda been. Nostalgic for what might have been. Nostalgic for the people and places that slipped out of my life before my dreams with them were fulfilled. There's a loneliness, an unfulfilled, empty feeling that I occasionally feel when driving alone in my car and a song starts playing that takes me back to those days. The days that we'll never get back. The days that have become romanticized in our minds, and were probably not all that great to begin with. After all, the grass is always greener in the yard we left behind. (and oh how I miss that yard sometimes)

  • Reply Kay November 21, 2010 at 6:30 am

    This was absolutely amazing. Today I was just missing my ex. I read this and it really struck me. It's so easy to romanticize the past without realizing it. You explained it beautifully and really put it in perspective.

  • Reply k November 22, 2010 at 4:45 am

    That's my favorite line from Garden State- silly movie or not. It about floored me when Zach Braff was talking about being homesick for a place that doesn't exist.

    Everytime I go to my hometown, it isn't that greatest time. But I always WANT to go there like it's going to be magical or amazing.

    My homesick is for times in my life. I'm homesick for times that I will never get back.

  • Reply Posted Secrets November 29, 2010 at 6:32 am

    This is so beautiful, sad, and true. I think anyone who's left a place they once called home will feel a heaviness as they read this.

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