Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fishing for Words

My mother was recently fishing for words - as a journalist this is an often occasion. She wanted one word to describe our hometown of Johannesburg , and another to describe that of our new town - Los Angeles. 

An interesting game to say the least. Being built by gold miners, Johannesburg is nothing if not a prospective, consuming, growing beast. We threw some of those at her, and a litany of others: home, fear, family, money, life, rejuvenation. But LA has a lot of the same feeling. It too is a place of opportunity, a place of a merging of people. There is the same crying, gnawing, gasping feeling of desperation. 

Joburg is about panning for gold, fighting to find the diamonds in the rough. LA seems more littered with gold, little nuggets of opportunity glinting in the sunshine everywhere you look. Sure they may not all be the real thing, but there sure is a lot of glitz.

Los Angeles is a bit of an anomaly - always this place that we see from far off, in movies, on screens, glitzy and glamorous, and other worldly. But being here, there's something different. There's that undertone - that opportunity, that chance. That closeness.

It seems to fight with the oldness, the desperation. It's a knife edge between moving forward and slipping backwards into obscurity. You can see them on the streets - the has-beens, the hopefuls lost for hope.

I love the film industry for its mystique - that's why we're here after all, this big illusive thing called Hollywood. It intrigues me. Story telling is all that I want to do. No, that's a lie, there's a lot that I want to do. But making, forming, creating, weaving stories is one of the best parts for me. So Los Angeles is a this anomaly. It completely deviates from what is expected. It is warmer and more welcoming expected. But also filled with more twists and turns than expected.

A lot of people here ask me where I'm from. Or, more presumptuously, assume I'm from Australia. Or New Zealand. (I'm actually amazed by how many people say New Zealand, how much it is in the public consciousness, especially since there's no notable stars or celebrities - that I can think of at least - or particularly outspoken and proud New Zealanders running around LA?! Is it from Lord Of The Rings being filmed there?! What is it that gives them that chuffed I-must-be-right expression as they ask if I'm from New Zealand, like they've cracked some special code? I DO NOT GET IT.)

Sometimes, once we've chatted about where I'm actually from, they'll ask what it's like. And I only ever have good things to say. I know of far too many people who leave their home country, and bad mouth it for years as so to justify leaving, and I think it's kind of disgusting. South Africa is my home, and is a beautiful country, one that I cannot wait to return to. So much so that I try not to look up too often - the sight of a plane flying over head tugs at my insides, and makes me think of aeroplanes and car rides and  the way to get home.

Also, PS, being asked if I'm Australian really grates. A lot. It's blood-boilingly-bad.


Ant K said...

its because the New Zealand and South African accent are almost exactly the same ... I even battle to tell them apart

lucille said...

Ah, Robyn, you're just going to have to grit your teeth on this one, you won't win it. mom