It's the beginning of April, which means only 1 thing: Opening Day in Los Angeles.
Spring training is over, and the 2018 baseball season is officially underway. The 25-man rosters are set, and all 30 Major League Baseball teams have started to play for keeps, with the ultimate goal of winning the next World Series.
It also marks the beginning of the second consecutive baseball season that I will not be a part of. When I was living in LA, following my beloved Dodgers was as easy as turning on the radio during my drive home or turning on the TV while I cooked dinner. Hearing Vin Scully's iconic voice on the radio was music to my ears.
And if I really wanted to get into the full spirit of things, Dodger Stadium was merely a mile and a half away from my office. Dodgers dogs, beers, and nachos were on my regular not-so-healthy stadium food rotation.
Now that I no longer live in LA, or even the US for that matter, my baseball obsession is but a distant memory. Sure, I go online to check box scores once in a while, but the feeling is hardly the same.
Leaving LA Behind
That being said, I signed up for my new life on my own. I knew what I was getting into, and I wouldn’t change it one bit. I get to travel the world with the woman I love. I get to see my family now more than ever, especially my two aging grandparents who are more precious than anything I left behind in LA.
It doesn’t mean that I’ll never be back. LA is home, after all. But for now, I'm putting it on the back burner, not knowing exactly when I'll return.
I do have to admit that I miss the comforts of LA. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of things I hate about it as well. But if there was one place in the world that I could live for the rest of my life, without restrictions, LA would be very high on the list. I’m definitely lucky to have called it home for so many years.
Anyhoo, below are just a few of the many things I miss about LA. I’ve boiled it down to the big top 5, but there are plenty more things, big and small, that I've left off.
1. The Weather
I loved not having to worry about the weather in Southern California. My European friends are shocked when I tell them that LA has no winter. Beaches are fully accessible all year round. The temperature hardly dips below 60F (15C). In fact, Angelinos complain about it when it does happen.
It’ll rain for maybe a couple of weeks in January, and that’s pretty much it. And everything you hear about being able to surf and ski on the same day? It’s very much true. Too bad I never learned how to do either one.
2. The Night Life
Where do I even start here? There are just so many things to do in LA that you can never be bored. For a good stretch of my single life, I went out maybe 5 to 6 nights a week. If I didn’t have to wake up so early for work, I could have easily gone out 7 days a week.
Seriously, I don't even know how to list everything. There are just so many things to do in LA.
3. The Nature
You normally wouldn’t associate an urban sprawl like LA with nature, but the city has some of the most gorgeous landscapes out there. I used to go hiking almost every weekend on a different trail.
Some trails led to spectacular waterfalls. Others overlooked the Pacific Ocean. My favorite hike led to the back of the famous Hollywood sign. I felt like I was literally on top of the world.
It's the freaking Hollywood sign, and it was in my back yard. That's pretty awesome for sure.
4. The Friendships
A lot of people complain that dating is hard in LA. People flake. People are late. Lots of people are pretentious and inconsiderate. And yes, all of that is true. I've had more than my fair share of dating mishaps.
However, I've also developed more than my fair share of wonderful friendships over the years. From the Tuesday night runs with Electric Flight Crew or Thursday nights at Perch with my downtown LA happy hour crew, I miss hanging out with them each and every week, sharing laughs over beers and giving them high-fives and hugs.
5. The Dodgers
You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? I grew up on baseball. It was the sport that I clung onto in my youth when I was a wide-eyed immigrant kid who knew nothing about America.
Baseball was my savior. When I was depressed, I watched baseball. When I was happy, I watched even more baseball. I looked forward to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training every single year.
I collected baseball cards. I asked players for autographs. And I happily sat alone in minor league games.
I traveled to Sydney to watch my beloved Dodgers play. I spent a year with the Oakland A's while in college. Including a one-day stint as Stomper the mascot.
I enjoyed every aspect of baseball, except that I was simply a terrible player. I once told people that I would give my left nut to have played at a decent level.
And I still would.