It has taken me 10 years to decide, accept, and appreciate that Los Angeles is my home.

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was barely 22. I was a young, excited, and naive 22 at that. I received a very rude awakening and found Los Angeles a much bigger and scarier place than I had known before. My three years in graduate school gave me a support system, which helped keep my feet on the ground, but since then it has been a roller coaster of love and hate for this city, leaning towards the hate. I felt disconnected. I felt trapped. I felt I did not belong here.

After spending 4 years planning my escape, I decided to stop and reevaluate. I stopped complaining about the traffic, the smog, and the cultural disconnect and started to look at myself and at what was best for me. I got my ass off the couch and into some running shoes. I got in shape and found places in the city I had never seen before. I expanded my love of food, bought my motorcycle, jumped out of an airplane, and finally got on a surf board. I opened myself up to what this place I had lived in for so long actually had to offer.

I started to feel better about Los Angeles and myself, and started to date.

I met an amazing woman, and we explore the city together. We hike, go to movie screenings in the cemetery, try amazing restaurants, and take rides along the coast. I even asked her to marry me this past September on the beach in Santa Monica, and we are planning a June wedding in Malibu.

I realized something that I thought I already knew: perspective is everything.

My mother and my sister always hated that I lived in Los Angeles, but I think now they enjoy coming to visit because I can share all of the great things that LA has to offer.

I don’t care that it might take me 40 minutes to drive the 8 miles to get to work. If traffic is bad, I just take the motorcycle instead and drive right around the cars, like a true Angelino.

I am settled. I am happy. I am in love. I am home.