With food and the places I live, I am relatively undiscriminating. I feel, in both situations, as long as the people around are okay, it doesn’t so much matter about the food or the place you’re living. I never really notice what my food tastes like if I’m having a good time at a meal. Similarly, the dingiest living arrangements never bothered me when I was surrounded by funny, interesting people.
It doesn’t take much to keep me happy: a movie theater, a place to play basketball and/or soccer, a coffee shop, a decent library. Places to walk and decent bookstores are a nice bonus. There are few places I can think of that wouldn’t have most of these things. For a year after law school, I worked in Hartford and lived in Glastonbury. I was totally happy, even though I was at home. I got to hang out with my parents and my little brother, and we managed to have a pretty good time, even if we were hanging out at Daybreak Coffee on Main Street by Welles Turner Library, or shopping at the Gap.
Anyway, maybe everyone else in the country is right and L.A. is not that great. Maybe it is a cultural wasteland and a toxic dystopia. The thing is, I won’t really notice or get too down about it, so long as my stupid little needs are met. As it is, there’s plenty here to keep me happy. Granted, I don’t take advantage of the reportedly fantastic music scene. Nor do I go hiking in the nearby mountains or visit the beaches. I’m not even particularly grateful or hung up on the weather. Mostly I do the same crap here that I did in other places: go to work, pay late fees at the library, occasionally play basketball or soccer, watch C-Span and sports on TV, compulsively join book clubs. Not too much that’s different here in L.A. about this tiny world of mine besides the abundance of very fine Thai food.
I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing. I’m always a little put off or worried by the relentlessly critical people that I often find myself hanging out with. You know these people: they define their personalities and tastes by things they disdain, what they reject. These are the people that are perpetually bemoaning a restaurant’s mole, the seasoning of the broth at a ramen shop, the recent popularity of their previously secret favorite Vietnamese restaurant, the inauthenticity of Chicken Vindaloo, etc. These people will usually also go on at length about books, music, politics, television programs, sports events, and personalities that they hate, are annoyed by, etc. They are often less forthcoming about things that they are really into. These people sometimes make me feel like I should be more critical about things, more exacting in my standards. Perhaps I am sort of stupid because I am easily satisfied. But, whatever -- I think I’m incapable of their level of connoisseurship. It might be because I grew up in Glastonbury.