From Boston to Los Angeles

Recovering from a broken ankle in beautiful weather instead of ice and snow

On Feb. 6 I left snowy Boston and came to LA. Wow, what a difference! I have always lived in cold climates during the winter – this is my first time being in a place with nice weather during February. Of course I’m loving it!

Boston & LA in February
Boston & LA in February

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I fractured my ankle on Nov. 1. I had to stay off it for almost 8 weeks, and I was on crutches for a while, in the midst of a snowy, icy Boston winter. By late December I managed to be able to walk without crutches, which felt wonderful.

Treacherous slush & ice when I was on crutches.
Treacherous slush & ice when I was on crutches.

I went to physical therapy twice a week from mid-December until right before I left for LA. That helped a lot. I’m still doing intense exercises every day given to me by my physical therapist. These involve things like walking on my tiptoes barefoot, stretching my ankle in four directions using a stretchy band, jumping over imaginary lines in bare feet, and the most difficult, balancing on tiptoe on my injured foot while taking my other foot off the ground (I can’t quite do it yet, only for a few seconds, holding on to a chair). I just can’t believe how much my foot and ankle has lost the ability to do normal things because of being off it for so long.

Physical therapy - ankle exercises.
Physical therapy – ankle exercises.

I really am a lot better than I was and I can walk around the neighborhood, but I’m still walking slowly, with a limp. The muscles in my calf and ankle are very tight and my ankle doesn’t have full range of motion yet. It’s frustrating sometimes to be so much better, but still feeling far from normal. I’m envious of people who can walk briskly down the street without thinking about it. I miss going for vigorous walks! I’m determined to keep exercising and hopefully after a few more weeks I will be back to normal.

Echo Park neighborhood

My new neighborhood.
My new neighborhood.

Since I don’t have a car, I chose a neighborhood where seemed like it might be possible to get by without one. So far it’s working out well! I really like Echo Park. I’ve rented a little bungalow on Airbnb and it’s in a great location. I can walk to several good coffee shops with free Wi-Fi, and to good restaurants, including an organic vegan place, cheap/good Mexican, and tasty Vietnamese that even has gluten-free vegetarian options. There is a small Mexican grocery and a regular mainstream grocery store, both within walking distance. On Friday afternoons there is a small farmer’s market, and there is also really good small “local foods” store with amazing, tasty items, both produce and packaged items. Frequent busses run locally and express to other neighborhoods, including to the LA Metro Rail. I’ll write more about public transportation later, after I’ve explored it more.

My little bungalow.
My little bungalow.

Stories Bookstore/Cafe
Stories Bookstore/Cafe
Stories - another favorite place.
Stories – another favorite place.
Chango - my favorite coffee shop.
Chango – my favorite coffee shop.

For now, everything I need is within walking distance.

My experience of Echo Park is that it’s neither too gentrified, nor too run-down. It’s a happy medium that includes diversity (I love hearing Spanish spoken everywhere… reminds me of my time in Mexico), and hipsters (the coffee shops are full of people with their noses in their computer… I’m one of them!), and cheap dollar stores (useful), a beautiful little park, a vinyl record shop, thrift stores, murals on the walls, and some cultural venues like Echo Park Film Center. It may sound weird, but in some ways it reminds me of Union Square, Somerville, where I lived from 2005-2011 –- a neighborhood in transition, with an interesting blend of old and new.

Lots of fun places in Echo Park.
Lots of fun places in Echo Park.
Echo Park Film Center.
Echo Park Film Center.
Mural
Mural

Feeling at home in your neighborhood

It strikes me that finding a neighborhood you like is possible in many different cities, and when you find that type of neighborhood, you feel at home — even though you’re in a different city. I look for neighborhoods where I can walk, bike, or take public transportation to coffee shops, bookstores, movie theaters, parks, tasty restaurants that aren’t too expensive, and cute little independent shops that sell different items from around the world.

I don’t feel at home in suburban neighborhoods with strip malls and divided highways, where you need a car to get around. I don’t mind visiting those from time to time (to make a run to Target!), but I don’t like living there.

So when you think of LA, don’t think of traffic, smog, Hollywood, the beach, extremes of rich and poor, gangs, crime, shallow people focused on appearances only, and movie stars. And when you think of Boston, don’t think of Harvard and MIT, snooty intellectuals, Boston brahmins, rabid baseball fans, crazy drivers, and thick Boston accents. All of those things exist, but everything is not like the stereotypical imaginings.

There are interesting, friendly people everywhere, in every neighborhood and city. And it’s possible to find a neighborhood that feels like “home” to you, in many different places.

I’ve heard negative comments about LA, Mexico, Omaha, and many other cool and interesting places that I’ve either lived in or visited. Many of the comments were from people who’ve never been to those places!

Take the bus.
Take the bus.
Taco trucks.
Taco trucks.
Working in the coffee shop.
Working in the coffee shop.

More on Echo Park

Why I like moving every few months

It’s fun to explore different places where I might want to live someday. It’s one thing to visit for a week on vacation, and another to live in a place for a few months. I feel so lucky that my work is online and I can do it from anywhere. I lived in Oaxaca, Mexico for five months last year, and this year I’m exploring west coast cities in the U.S.: Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle. In November I’m thinking of going to either Mexico City or Quito, Ecuador – both places have beautiful weather and I have possible options for low cost (almost free) places to stay via connections with friends! More on that later.

2 thoughts on “From Boston to Los Angeles

  1. Darcy Duke

    Cool Nicole! Glad the weather is better for you to get out and walk around. We got 4-5″ on Saturday and are supposed to get a few more tomorrow. My Mom has to go to the doctor every day for a few weeks for treatment and it’s been a challenge getting her safely around with these icy sidewalks! But it’s been good for her too, it’s boosted her confidence in getting around generally (she’s driving again = independence for her) and is getting more exercise. Take care and keep us updated, love the blog!

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