Cheerleader, hipster-lover, yuppie, suit, country, nerd, jock. These are merely a few of the labels that have been placed on me during my lifetime. There have been plenty of names that have disparaged my race, gender, and general appearance over the years, but I’ve learned to push those aside and keep going.
There is little I dislike more than being labeled, but only because I often think a single label cannot completely embody all of who I am. And while I decry the use of labels, I use them every day to describe people, too. I am not above it. It seems to be ingrained in us. We compartmentalize people.
Last night I made a trip to LAX, my second this week and hopefully my last for awhile, to pick a friend from out of town. In the car on the way back to downtown she began looking at the scenery that is LA with a bit of awe. “When I say something that makes me look like I’m a country girl visiting the big city for the first time, just tell them ‘she’s from Oklahoma,'” she said at one point when she stopped our conversation all together after being somewhat overwhelmed by the traffic. It reminded me of my first night in Los Angeles. I wasn’t even staying in Los Angeles proper, but in the Inland Empire near the Ontario Airport. I was eighteen years old setting out for the first time on my own. Though I was nervous and unsure about what was going to happen next, I was ready to see what the world had in store for me. I thought I’m a city girl. I can handle this place.
Then I watched the evening news and nearly caught a plane right back to Texas. I had a very similar thought as my Oklahoma friend. Instead of looking naïve or completely out of my element I’m just going to say “come on, I’m a Texas girl.” An attempt to label myself before someone else thought of something worse to call me.
Fast forward to 11:37 p.m. on Thursday, September 8, 2011. We made it back to downtown Los Angeles with minimal swearing on my part about how much I dislike traffic and cars and being in a car in traffic. It was Art Walk, and so we meandered to Rocket Pizza for a midnight snack and drink. The place was packed with people. When we sat down I took stock in the people around us. Young, old, frat boy, punk, college girl, hipster, cyclist…me.
I actually had a cinematic music playing in the background as the world around me continues to go along as normal internal dialogue moment last night. Looking at all those people around me thinking how amazing it is that we are all in the same place at the same time doing the same thing…enjoying life in that instant. Ah, downtown, I do love you so.
So, if you have to label me, then please call me DTLA-freak.