Wake up, gear up the dogs, heave open our heavy iron gate, take a left, follow the road behind our house, pass new construction and new neighbors, pass steep roads and sharp turns until finally we find ourselves on a rare and solitary dirt road hugging the outside of the hill. This view a ritual, like taking a first breath. Suddenly, unburdened by steep ascents of sandstone embracing the inner workings of our neighborhood, the city is sprawling and expansive before me and I am an integral, yet insignificant character in its story. For three years I have welcomed each day with this view and the jangle of my dogs’ collars as they run freely down the dirt road; I have caught my breath at the sight of Los Angeles, vast and alive, extending for miles in every direction.

I have been humbled by this physical reminder that in every moment we exist within a larger picture.

I am grateful.



I adopted a life in Los Angeles a decade ago. I believe it takes about this long to fully grasp how much you will never know about a city forever dilating in the infamous California sun. The freeways a practice of patience, a meditation. Time warps differently, distance a matter of minutes, not miles. And while I might be able to accurately calculate how long it will take to get from Highland Park to Culver City at 3pm on a Tuesday (depending on what exit you take), I could only guess how many souls arrive and leave this city in a single day. I arrived at the age of 17, anxious and ambitious, unaware of the ease with which one can lose themselves in the layers of history marked like floodlines throughout limitless peaks and valleys, freeways and side streets. For ten years, Los Angeles has been my greatest teacher, the conductor of a symphony of stories related all at once and not at all. I have learned the power of perspective, the necessity of change and the tenderness of evolution. Today, I conduct a ceremonial pilgrimage to watch the first rays of sun cast palm-tree shaped shadows across this angelic city and lose myself in this view. I imagine the skyline undulating through herstory, until all that remains is the naked Earth, springing forth only that which is native to its environment. A landscape that breeds resilience to this day. I am grateful.



Next month I will be one of who-knows-how-many souls to leave this city, making way for a never-ending stream of arrivals. The time has come for me to return to where I came from, releasing every secret that kept me tied to this sprawling, storied metropolis.

The lessons learned from years spent asking Los Angeles to teach me her secrets of survival and success, failure and freedom are forever etched into my bones.

Carrying her with me even as she lets me go. My morning ritual of waking up, gearing up the dogs, heaving open our heavy iron gate, taking a left and following the road behind our house to the first glimpse of this view has been a rite of passage. An education on finding solace and space in a place that could have easily swallowed me whole. I look out over this city, an angel in her own right, and practice unfurling my wings. Now I can fly. I am grateful.



Eliana Leilani

gram: @eevolves