I’ll be honest; other than the chance to see my family for the first time in almost a year, I wasn’t looking forward to returning to L.A. I grew up here, in Whittier, about 18 miles from downtown, and I just can’t stand this place. My family stays in L.A. because they love the diversity and opportunities that a huge city offers. I split when I was 22, opting for cleaner air, walkability and the small town vibe of San Francisco instead.
My parents grew up in East Los Angeles, in the 1940s and ’50s, as children of hard working Mexican immigrants who came to the U.S. for a better life. Mom and Dad grew up poor, but they share many fond memories of their neighborhood on the edge of downtown, before they moved to the suburbs where they would ensure my four sisters and I had an easier life than they did.
My Dad still has friends out there, and last week, Jim and I got what Dad called “The Two Dollar Tour” of my parent’s old stomping grounds. Looking at it with fresh eyes, I saw that East L.A. isn’t all so bad; there’s lots of thriving small businesses, it’s colorful, and I have to say, the food there is damn good — the best Mexican food we’ve had anywhere in the U.S.