By Brendon John Kelly
After reading Tony Bravo’s San Francisco Is My Wife, New York Is My Mistress, I began to ponder my own city relationships. Although I had grown up in a small, blue-collar town outside of Boston (Go Red Sox!), gone to school in Boulder, Colorado (Go Birkenstocks!), and even lived abroad (Go home, Yankee!), I have been living in Los Angeles for the past 12 years, pretty much the entire decade of my 20s and now into my 30s.
Yesterday I had a sobering look in the mirror (meaning I was both sober and looking in a mirror– highly recommended while shaving) and it hit me: I was now in a loveless relationship with Los Angeles. In fact, the only thing still keeping me here was the fact that I had knocked LA up with my Hollywood dream years ago – that’s right, LA had become my baby mama.
It was easy to see how it happened. An impressionable young lad new to town runs into LA at the Viper Room, music blaring, liquor flowing, one thing leads to another… Back then I thought LA was hot – hot in a trashy kind of way, but hot nonetheless. We got a studio apartment and talked about our future together late into the night.
The Hollywood dream was born! We went on auditions, walked the red carpet, and partied with the A-list. At some point reality crept in and I found myself having to get a job-job (a term used by Angelenos to define the job you do to pay the bills while trying to obtain the job you actually want) and commuting daily in traffic that would turn the Dalai Lama into a raging lunatic. It wasn’t long before we started growing apart – admittedly it wasn’t LA, it was me.
You know when you’ve been with someone too long and everything they do starts to annoy you, even the things you used to love about them? Well, that was suddenly the case with LA:
The weather: Everyday is a beach day! But I don’t tan, my feet look ugly in flip-flops, and my air conditioning bill is more expensive than my college loan.
The flakiness: Bohemian and spontaneous! But just once, can’t we commit to something, anything? I have to confirm 15 times with your assistant for a lunch that you still cancel by the time I get to the restaurant.
The industry: Movies, movies, movies! But there are other things outside of entertainment, aren’t there? (I’m actually still not sure on this one).
And that’s when I started to stray.
I first met San Francisco on a business trip. It was a brief encounter, just a few days, but something clicked right away. Within an hour of meeting we were finishing each other's sentences: You like riding bikes? I love riding bikes!
Over the past few years I have been spending more and more time in SF and have become smitten – the city, the weather, the literate people (they read books, not scripts, actual books!). No attitude, no artifice, no judgment. She’s a beautiful city, inside and out. What had started as a fling has now turned into a full-fledged affair – let’s be honest here, I’m in love. SF just gets me.
I now find myself sneaking away in the dead of night while LA is fast asleep. As soon as I arrive in SF, I put on a jacket (Have you heard of these things, jackets? They’re wonderful!). And I just walk through different neighborhoods, up and down hills, along the waterfront, past busy people, businesspeople, crazy people, happy people – for real happy, not that plastic smile my baby mama uses when instagramming selfies, but actual joy.
I talk to people on the streets, in stores, at cafés – total strangers, who for whatever reason stop to say hello. And guess what? Once they realize I’m not famous, they keep talking to me anyway! It’s as if they don’t even care that I’m not famous. LA says, “That’s a lie, everyone cares.”
SF is not threatened by LA, because she’s confident, secure, and knows she has so much to offer. She invites me to stay as long as I want, but never pressures me. She introduces me to new experiences and teaches me about different cultures and industries. Did you know that there are magical genies called “Venture Captains” that just give away money to anyone who wants to start a business? For free, no strings attached! Amazing.
And it’s not just SF that’s different, I’m different. I reconnect with everything I love about people, places, and things (yes, nouns!) and most of all, writing. Without having to write for industry readers and producers, or to attach the hottest star, or capitalize on the latest trend – I am free to write for the love of writing.
Back in LA it’s the same old same old – we sit in traffic and bicker. I bicker. LA is on her phone scrolling through Perez Hilton or Nikki Finke. I shake my head. She shrugs and says, “whatevs.” I threaten to leave her for SF, but LA laughs at me, “You’re a writer, where are you going to work, Pixar?”
I tell her I’m getting an MBA and that I could work anywhere, I could write marketing campaigns or even start a company. LA snickers, “No one ever got famous starting a company.” But SF told me that’s not actually true.
Yesterday I told LA I may not come back after the holidays and that’s when she held our Hollywood-dream baby over my head, taunting me, “You leave me and you can kiss your baby good-bye!”
But you know what? After looking at that baby for the past 12 years, I’m not even sure it’s mine anymore.