Is it worth it to live in a city with too many bad memories?
December 26, 2012 2:56 AM   Subscribe

Is it worth it to live in a city with too many bad memories? I love Los Angeles, but I feel that pieces of my heart are scattered all over it.

I am just really torn about this. Im' 27 and I live about an hour outside of Los Angeles with my mother. I moved in with her after I left my husband two years ago. A few months later I started dating this guy who was pursuing me. I fell head over heels for the guy. He lived in Los Angeles, and during our time together he showed me so much of the city. We made awesome memories. Eventually he broke my heart, and I wasn't able to return to the city for awhile.

Then I met someone else, a female friend who lived in about the same area. Eventually I fell in love with her, much to my surprise, because I'd never been in love with another woman before. But it was so effortless. Our love relationship lasted for a complicated, intense eight months. During those eight months I had made plans to move out of my mother's place and move to Los Angeles, since I'd found a new love for the place. But after things ended with my girlfriend (a couple days ago), I can't imagine wanting to set foot there again.

My emotions are perhaps compounded by the fact that it's the end of the year and I'm doing a lot of reflection. But I do love L.A...I love the general spirit of bustling, busy chaos and the spirit of innovation and creativity that I see every time I visit. I was also born here, so I feel that attachment. It's a place that is very close to my heart...but now I find myself relating to John Mayer's song "In Your Atmosphere."

I'm gonna steer clear
Burn up in your atmosphere
I'm gonna steer clear
Cause I'd die if I saw you
I'd die if I didn't see you there
So I don't think I'm gonna go to LA anymore

I've thought about moving to Miami or maybe Oregon...I definitely don't want to stay where I'm living now because this city doesn't have much to offer. I really love L.A and I would miss so much it if I moved out of state, but is it worth it to live in a place when you have strong negative emotions tied to it?
posted by Cybria to Human Relations (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Sometimes, sometimes not. But your most recent breakup is just a couple of days old! If you're anything like me, you're not in a good place yet to predict how you'll feel in the long run. Give yourself some time to let your emotions settle before you make big decisions about cross-country moves.
posted by shattersock at 3:20 AM on December 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

I think if you have strong negative emotions you can work through them over time, especially if you love LA enough to feel you would really miss it by going away. But in the short term a break from the negative emotions might help you feel more revitalised and energetic.

Could you take a short break with a view to returning to LA after you've dealt with some of the breakup emotions? Maybe a holiday could help you clarify things, and if you were still keen to go you could plan to take a year off living somewhere else?

Could you make sure to avoid parts of LA that specifically remind you of your exes and use it as a chance get to know new areas in the city?

If it weren't for your negative emotions, would you have positive reasons to go to Miami or Oregon? Did you ever contemplate leaving LA before?
posted by EatMyHat at 3:30 AM on December 26, 2012

But after things ended with my girlfriend (a couple days ago), I can't imagine wanting to set foot there again.

It's been a couple of days. Give it a month or so.
posted by empath at 4:19 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank you Shattersock, EatMyHat, empath. You've made good's only been a couple days. My last relationship was very intense and unsteady...I still feel very broken up. I know I shouldn't make decisions when I am emotional. Thanks for the reminder.

EatMyHat, I was thinking of going away for a few months. Maybe that would be good for me. II was thinking of an out of state move because the cost of living is lower in those places. Plus there are things that I like about them. I guess things will get clearer for me in the next couple months or so. Thanks for your input.
posted by Cybria at 4:38 AM on December 26, 2012

I've been there. Those associations will absolutely fade with time. But I know it's hard right now. Going away for a few weeks wouldn't be crazy, just to breath. But the heartache will follow you anywhere right now because it's still so fresh. It takes time.
posted by dry white toast at 4:45 AM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Give yourself time to recover from the breakup and remember: the city itself didn't do anything to hurt you.
posted by wolfnote at 5:23 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wherever you go, there you are.

By which I mean "I agree with everyone else so far."
posted by Alterscape at 5:55 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Good advice so far. Just would like to add that moving to another city brings along its troubles too. You'll make good and bad memories in the new city too, just as you have in Los Angeles.

It can be okay to stay in a city with bad memories. (Unless you're at a point where you can't function, or it's significantly interfering with your work or...)

Maybe for now you could avoid the places where the hurt is still fresh. One day (in the distant future) when you're brave enough, you could even make new, better memories at the same places to cover or "replace" (so to speak) the old ones. Then these places will mean new things to you.
posted by rozaine at 6:10 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've lived in my current city since my mid-20s, and spent the first 6 or 7 years here in and out of screwed up relationships and crap jobs. My own craziness stabilized in my 30s and I eventually went on to get married, develop a career, etc. There were a few times 10 years ago that I considered moving back to the midwest or somewhere else to get away from bad memories or messes I'd made, but I'm really glad I didn't now. I still run into people from that era and they've also gone on to have their own lives and forgotten what once seemed like huge crises and unforgivable transgressions. It's good to have some roots in a city -- even warty ones.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 6:46 AM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

"There's bound to be a ghost at the back of your closet no matter where you live."

Stay anywhere long enough and you'll have a history with it and even if life is -- on the balance -- positive for you there'll still be rough times.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 7:28 AM on December 26, 2012

I have lived in the same city for most of my life (I moved away for a couple years and then came back), so nearly all my memories, happy and painful are here. The more time that passes, the more special it makes this place to me.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 7:56 AM on December 26, 2012

If you were writing this from a very small town, where everything is a memory and everyone knows you and your business, I would say yes. But big cities (even small cities) change and evolve and so do you.

There's no harm in a long weekend away, especially if you can go be with some friends for a few days. But now is probably not the time to make any decisions about a big move.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:37 AM on December 26, 2012

Cities are entities unto themselves. I have some bad memories associated with Chicago but I still love going back there (unfortunately rarely achieved). They have momentum and energy and a life that will still surprise you even going back to a part you know well. Yes, you have some specific memories associated with the city, but your mind is connecting them to the person and relationship rather than to the city itself. That terrific Indian restaurant is still that terrific Indian restaurant; that hot club is still that hot club (well, clubs have short lifetimes, but it's probably another hot club under another name now); and that park with the great view is still that park with the great view. And look, a new museum! A fantastically eclectic little shop with that stuff you love!

Give yourself some time, then start delving back into the city with a mind for making it your own, this time around. Eventually maybe you'll meet somebody YOU can start showing around.
posted by dhartung at 10:04 AM on December 26, 2012

I would tend to say try giving a new city a try. My hometown has never been very good to me. I didn't have a great time growing up in school, and when I was younger it was impossible to get a good job, which meant living in poverty. I moved away and had a significantly different experience wherever I lived - better jobs, more friends, better memories.

We moved back to my hometown to be closer to my parents (we have kids) and while it's tolerable, the old memories are here, and I've never really grown attached to this place.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:35 AM on December 26, 2012

Two somewhat conflicting thoughts:
1. LA is vast. You could move to a different area of LA and give that a shot. Might free you from some of the intense emotional connections and give you a chance to explore new areas of the City. I too love LA and one of the thing that a love about it is that Venice is different from Culver City, from Highland Park, from Glendale, from East LA.

2. Another is that you could try another city, without putting down big roots. I've left LA a couple of times and leaving has always renewed my love for it. So, I'd just say leave yourself flexibility to come back if you want to.

Good luck, it will get better.
posted by stewieandthedude at 4:29 PM on December 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

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