Befriending Los Angeles

by Loolwa Khazzoom • July 3, 2010 • My So-Called Social Life

I have lived in Los Angeles for almost two years now, and while I have made a number of nice acquaintances, I have not made friend friends — ie, inner circle types whom I can call any day or time. And don’t even get me started on my non-existent love life. I have reason to believe that guys here all assume I’m a lesbian, or at least bi with predominant lesbian tendencies, because apparently I’m one of the last standing feminists south of the Berkeley border.

The last time I lived in LA, in the early 1990s, I made exactly one friend during a three-year stint (my best friend ever since), and while I had a ridiculous sexual experience here and there, there was no boyfriend to speak of.  Then I moved to Berkeley, and whamo! Instantaneous friends, string of boyfriends, and warm community. Same thing when I moved to Israel. Years or decades later, those people still comprise  my inner circle. Maybe that’s why I haven’t gotten rid of my stuff in a Tel Aviv storage unit. A part of me is still there, in more ways than one.

Anyhow, clearly LA is just not my scene. I’m not sure how much of it is my doing and how much of it is the city’s doing, but I’ve decided to make my social life a public experiment and figure out if it is possible for a hotheaded, car-hating, non-TV-watching, radical feminist, anti-racist activist, Iraqi-American Jewish, part-punk, part-traditional, mostly vegetarian, physically and energetically sensitive, dancing musician and writer type such as myself to find deep, meaningful, and long-term friendship, romance, and community in Los Angeles.

Even writing that makes me laugh at the odds. Here is what I see as my major challenges:

1. Most of the Jewish community seems very conservative – definitely among the Middle Eastern sector. The pockets here and there that are progressive unfortunately are also decidedly obtuse (albeit self-congratulatory) when it comes to Jewish multicultural awareness. I’d rather hang out in a scene that has nothing to do with me than hang out in a scene that is supposed to be home but that really, seriously, isn’t.

2. To paraphrase the Wendy’s commercial circa 1983: Where’s the feminists?

3. While I believe that my kind of people are in the dance world – mostly, freestyle dance jams – those scenes are unsafe for people with hypersensitive bodies, especially when the gatherings are crowded.

4. While I would love to attend music performances, the crowd aspect again makes it unsafe for someone with a hypersensitive body.

5. You have to drive to get anywhere around here, often on a freeway. In Los Angeles, getting in a car and heading out onto the road feels tantamount to entering a combat zone, replete with tanks. Hell, even getting on a bike or walking down the street feels unsafe. LA has a violent car culture, where shaving off five seconds trumps preserving someone’s life. Usually it seems like a smarter decision to just stay home.

6. This place is seriously spread out in terms of physical geography. I don’t encounter the same people repeatedly at the various events I attend. If I did, I could organically develop relationships with these people. Instead, I have to make the effort to follow up on shadows of connection I make here and there, as I float from place to place. And given that distance and traffic factors, getting together seems like a major endeavor – requiring a couple of hours commuting time, in addition to whatever time we’d need to put aside to meet.  

I think my strategy needs to be honing in on a few places and committing to going to them repeatedly, even if some aspects of them annoy me, and even if it’s scary to get there and back in a car. I might just give up on following up with people when I meet them once, and instead focus on establishing a community base.

I think I also need to accept that I’m not willing to drive more than 10 miles or 30 min, whichever comes first, to get to an event, and stop trying to make myself do otherwise. I also might want to start my own gatherings — as I’m doing with the dance community I’m developing. Maybe I’ll start a group for Jewish multicultural misfits. We’ll see. Anyhow, stay tuned as I head off on a mission to get a social life and report back.

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About Loolwa

Loolwa KhazzoomLoolwa Khazzoom has worked with leading media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, Rolling Stone, and ABC News. In addition, she has published two books and has lectured at prestigious venues including Barnard Center for Research on Women, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Harvard University. Loolwa is passionate about health, music, dance, multiculturalism, and Judaism.

Holistic Media, Marketing, PR

Loolwa Khazzoom is a a public relations manager specializing in holistic media, holistic marketing, holistic public relations, and holistic promotions. Her services include branding and messaging development, image and communications management, website content development and optimization, social media management, traditional media campaign management, book development, and in-house writing and editing.

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