A Letter to Los Angeles

Dear City of Angels,

It's  been almost a year since I saw you last and lately I've been thinking about you a lot. I'm incredibly happy living in Morocco and although I don't want to live in the States again, I still think about you often. There are days, places, and things that I see that remind me of you and I want you to know there's a special place in my heart for you always.

I remember when I decided I couldn't live away from you. I quit my job, packed everything I could fit into my car, and headed towards you. It took me 4 days of driving but it was totally worth it. I'll admit, I was a little nervous as to how you'd receive me, but you welcomed me with open arms. As predicted, you completely swept me off my feet. From the start, I was in love with you. There were so many things you showed me that I'd never seen before. You were better than I hoped you would be and the more I saw of you, the more I loved you.
The first part of my adventure dropped me into a lovely place with a lovely face. I met a girl named Tammy aka Tamms online and she was looking for a roommate. Before I moved in, I visited her so we could meet in person and right away I knew we'd get along. When the day came for me to finally park the Mitsubishi in my new home, I was beyond excited. The condo was gorgeous, super clean, and perfect in every way.  Right away we became friends and hung out all the time. She put up with my craziness and constant silliness and I helped ween her off her addiction to Starbucks. (Ok so it totally didn't work and she's probably drinking a Triple Shot Pumpkin Latte right now). We spent so many nights on the balcony with our friends Paul and Cuba (who aren't humans by the way) and would talk all night while annoying the neighbors. Somtimes we'd go take a dip in the pool and make pina coladas with peanut butter and chocolate in them and just chill all day. We used to cook together, have little parties sometimes, and avoid stinky gremlins when possible. I'd always rearrange things in the house just to see if she'd notice and she always did. I tell you, that was the best-smelling condo ever. It was like...dripping with the scent of Yankee Candles at all times. When we weren't making Nutella s'mores in the microwave, sometimes we'd just spend literally all day to artsy-craftsy goofy stuff. She was the best roommate I could ask for and we had so much fun together. Tamms Turtle...what a blast we had!

I spent most of my time in the city and one day I met a new friend. Everything happened so fast and I didn't see any of it coming. I remember one day I met a girl named Lisa B. The day we met she told me she was going to change my life forever. I didn't know what she meant by that but shortly after, I saw for myself. She took me from the Midwestern girl living in Los Angeles to the girl spinning in the middle of the Hollywood social circle--and she did it at warp speed. Before I knew it I was hosting parties at the Thompson Hotel in Beverly Hills, throwing parties at some of LA's best-kept secret spots, eating at places like Mr. Chow, STK, Villa Blanca, Toast, and whatever other places were "in" at the moment. She showed me how to never wait in line no matter what and as the velvet ropes opened for us, doors of opportunity did, too. Instead of buying tickets for concerts, we were getting privately escorted in through back doors and led straight to the stage. VIP sections and comp'd bottle service became a way of life. Hanging out in the DJ booth with Paul Oakenfold and Benny Benassi was just "another night out on the town"--even if it was a Monday.  Things I never dreamed I would do became normal for me and everything happened too fast for me to realize what was going on. Living the high life became MY life and I felt like I was living a real-life version of an US Weekly issue. Weekend getaways to Palm Springs, San Diego, beach cities and whatever other spur-of-the moment idea we came up with were all just a Jaguar convertible drive away. There was nothing we didn't do--rooftop  pool parties, afro wigs, surf competitions, KooKoo rugs, yacht parties, Thanksgiving dinner with no turkey, movie nights at The Grove, a stupid rabbit, high heels on the balcony, undying love for a mustache, driving 2 blocks from home and valet parking, Christmas lights in August, Ally-Alejandro, the Roger Room, gettin' buttered up and buttered down from a bath salts salesman, Mr. Schaeffer and the fire-less fireplace, flying to San Francisco and back in less than 24 hours (for free) just because, Hard Rock kitchen appearances, getting escorted into (and out of) places, the never-ending quest for LA's best guacamole,  Thursday night themed dinner parties, Happy Endings, a $450 black latex cat suit and Dancing With a Star named Maksim, Asian flings (and BBQs), droppin' it low, freestyle rapping with black lesbians in flannel shirts and fitted hats, the Courthouse on Hill St, gas from a cop in the rain, kicking Mena Suvari out of VIP,  photo booths and photo shoots, T-Burglars, grocery store deliveries to the front door, Gyu-Kaku on a weekly basis, Japanese Cherry Blossom at all times, HOME in Los Feliz, Sunset Blvd and sunset cruises with the top down, Venice Beach drum circle, and who could forget our friends down at the L.A.P.D.? We did it all and then some. And sometimes while wearing waist-high purple satin pants.

Getcher suitcase sweetheart, cuz we're goin' outta town!

US OPEN of Surfing, Huntington Beach

On deck with Benny Benassi

Gyu Kaku...I miss you.
This rule-breaking citizen shall remain anonymous

Between all of the craziness, I still had time to appreciate the beauty of the charismatic city of Los Angeles. I miss hikes up Runyon Canyon and the panoramic views all the way to the ocean. Sometimes I'd wake up  and take walks around my neighborhood before everyone was awake. I miss going to the Cow's End Cafe for a cafe mocha and then walking along Venice Beach at 8am. I knew all the locals (and their dogs, too) and I used to be so thankful that I've never had a 9-5. Working for a company or corporate business is something I never understood. Why give up all your freedom to be on someone else's schedule? Wouldn't you be happier waking up when you want and doing whatever you wanted every day? It's  100% possible for everyone. Those who have taken the time to think of how to make it happen are with me in the "Anti- 9 to 5 Club." So while I slowly woke up on the beach with my toes in the sand, I'd laugh at all the "Is it Friday yet?" Facebook gripes.  This neighborhood was one of my favorite places. Whether I was riding a beach cruiser to Santa Monica Pier, shopping at the weekly farmer's market, or watching a Lakers game in a local spot, I always loved Venice Beach.  There's something about it that just can't be described.

Goodmorning, Ocean!

Ahhh, Runyon...

Beach life and city life are my 2 favorite things. I loved all of your neighborhoods and the people in them-- from the bimbos in Hollywood to the hipsters in Echo Park. You have a way of taking people in and slowly transforming them whether it be for better or worse. That's what I love about you: your acceptance of everyone. Nobody cares if someone is different. Not everyone wears the same thing like in the Midwest and I fell in love with the fashion. Bold outrageous outfits are normal and nobody shops at Aeropostale, Charlotte Russe, or American Eagle. The Gap is reminiscent of the early 90s and the thought of shopping at the mall makes people shudder. Instead you can find everything you need in vintage shops, crazy places on Melrose, sifting through the racks in Silverlake, Los Feliz, and Echo Park, at cute boutiques throughout the city, or one of the American Apparel stores on every corner. Wherever you go or whatever you do, nobody shows up with the same outfit as you. The creativity bred within your city limits is almost as gorgeous as the people living there. From models to street fashion, there's eye candy for every type of sweet tooth.

One of the city's stylish residents, Kerry

Some LA chicks

Not afraid of stepping out of the box

They say the sign of a good relationship is when you can be together in silence and be happy. I miss that part about you, too. When I wanted to be alone and peaceful, there was always a way and a place for that to happen. For the last few months of my life in LA, I flipped the script into a totally different scene. I moved from 3rd & La Cienega between The Beverly Center and The Grove and switched my atmosphere to a secret place in Highland Park. My friend Tay was renting an apartment from a rock star who was on tour in Europe--but she was never there. Since she moved in with her boyfriend I'd have the place to myself. We exchanged a few plane tickets for rent money and called it even. The best part is that the guy whose house it was had no idea I was staying there. The days I spent alone in Highland Park is where my life changed the fastest. I learned more about myself in those few months than I did in the 2 years prior waltzing around LA.

Miss you, Tay! ...(and your orange sassafrass nails)

My favorite room in the Treehouse...and the blue couch!

My living space was like a treehouse set really far back behind 2 other houses. It was at the end of a long driveway and from the street you'd never know it was there. There was no TV, internet, or radio--just me and my thoughts. And a record player. I used to take the subway and get off about a 1 minute walk from the treehouse. The best feeling ever was coming home to an empty house. I'd come in, light some candles, and put on a record. Sometimes before I came home I'd stop by Amoeba Music and dig through the crates for new records. On the way home I'd be so excited to listen to my latest purchase. It was always random but always good--sometimes some Prefuse 73, Jay-Z Reasonable Doubt, Egyptian bellydance music from the 60s, A Tribe Called Quest, or some Basement Jaxx. I'd fall asleep on the blue couch and wake up happier than ever.  That treehouse was perfect for me and it allowed me to do some serious soul -searching. I'll never forget always stopping at Famima! inside Union Station before cruising to my house. I truly loved that house and it was exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it. I honestly, honestly feel like I left a pretty good-sized piece of my heart in that treehouse--and I'm totally ok with that.

Amoeba = Classic.

Next Stop: Union Station

I really miss my commute.
I was never bored with all of these gems

You know, the whole reason I moved to be with you is because I was looking for something different. I was beyond bored with the Midwest and I knew I had outgrown my surroundings. I had this dream list of things I wanted to accomplish--and set a goal time line of 2 years. I accomplished everything in less than 6 months and from there my life was going full speed ahead. Within no time I had a really cool job--doing production for HBO's True Blood and Big Love, working with people like Snoop Dogg and Nicki Minaj and working for one of the best video directors of all time, Hype Williams. Sometimes I'd work in the art department for movies or do random side jobs like paint custom artwork for Gene Simmons, Kanye West or Amber Rose. I even built a spiral staircase for MC Lyte. That's what I love most about you, Los Angeles-- your constant randomness.

Halfway done with these paintings for Kanye and Amber

Working on the set of HBO's "Big Love"

Lights, Camera, Action

Filming with Eva Mendes

Nicki Minaj and her boom-ba-doom-boom, boom ba-doom boom bass

If I have to look at ONE more Christmas light...

By far the best new thing to happen to me while I was there was my discovery of Islam. It came in the most unexpected way, but I suppose almost everything in my life in LA happened unexpectedly. People ask me all the time how I became Muslim and it all started with a book. While I was waiting for someone one day, I was browsing his bookshelf. That's when I saw a copy of the Holy Quran. Intriqued, I picked it up "just to see" and I couldn't put it down. All the questions I had as a Christian were answered within that book! Finally! I had been questioning pastors for years only to be led to dead ends. I'd always been very religious but being in church never made 100% sense to me. No matter how many times I'd ask about the Trinity, nobody could answer my questions. I was simply told "it's  a mystery" and I never bought it. I always knew Jesus is not God. God is God, Jesus is Jesus. Both of them even said so in the Quran AND Bible. But that's not my point. My point is that I found myself living a life on the outside that didn't agree with what I felt on the inside. Soon after finding Islam, I became less interested in Guest Lists and more interested in God. Going to Drai's and H.Wood became less and less appealing. I'd find myself all dressed up sitting in a club full of people and thinking "Why am I even here? I just want to be at home right now. This is lame." Week after week I'd continue to think about how this glamorous life was starting to feel dull. I was looking for something more that I all of a sudden couldn't find in LA.

Reading the Quran on Venice Beach

I decided that I needed to change my surroundings. Everytime I would finish reading a chapter of the Quran, I would always think of Moroco and I didn't know why. I would find myself daydreaming of this place that I had never been to before. I didn't know antyhing about Morocco really--but I kept thinking about it more and more. When things like this happen, I feel like it's God's way of talking to me. What started out as a whisper of an idea turned into words being shouted into my heart that became impossible to ignore. I didn't know anyone there or what I would do or where I would live or how my life would be, but I did know that it was time for me to go.

It was a bittersweet time for me to say goodbye to you, Los Angeles. As I packed my suitcase full of memories, I was preparing for an entirely different type of journey. I traded my mini skirts for modesty, tequila for tranquility and partying for praying. I'm living my life now in a completely different way. I never wake up hungover and and my body and conscious are totally clean.  I have a new life but I'm way happier with the way I live now. 

For now, all I ask is that you take care of all of my friends there. I hope that you can lead them to true happiness the way you did for me--even if that means living away from you. I'll never forget the times we had and the things, people, and places you showed me. I don't want you to think that I don't miss you, because I do. I think about you all the time. You were everything I ever wanted and then some. The thing is, I just fell out of love with you. The part of my life I shared with you is now a closed chapter. Thank you for everything. I'll never forget you.

Love always,
DowntownJaimeBrown (one word)

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Irene Darbinyan said...

Every word you write is golden. It comes through as the words of someone who is incredibly at peace and living in this moment.. free of attachments to time (past & future) things and people. I love it. I cannot even explain how inspirational you are. Thank you for being honest with yourself and being honest with your readers. I hope you are always rewarded in ways that cannot be seen or touched. :)

Anonymous said...

I do not even know how I ended on this web page , but I feel this post was majestic.I don't know your history but unquestionably you're going to be a renowned blogger if you aren't by now Regards !

As a final point , allow me thank you for your tolerance with my English as (I'm confident you have become aware this by now,), English is not my primary language so I am using Google Translate to form out what to record what I really wish to tell.

Jaime Brown said...

Irene! Thank you so much! That was so sweet of you to say, really! I'm so happy that people like to read what I write. In a way it's like an outlet for me while I'm here, you know? Thanks for taking the time :)

And ANONYMOUS--- how did you find me? I'm always curious to know how people land on this page. Thank you for such kind words.

Everyone, please feel free to share this with anyone you want :) just hilight this link and paste it anywhere you want...



The Loerzels said...

One chapter ends, another begins!

The Loerzels said...

One chapter ends, another begins!

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom,

That picture of the Quran on the beach is really the most beautiful in a blog full of interesting pictures. Yes, it's fascinating to know some of your background. We come from very diverse places when we enter into Islam. It's important to put this information out there. It's a path which others can visualize and understand that it's not impossible to travel it themselves. That whisper they hear to pick up The Book, to read, and to dream is their true self. I'm glad you found yourself and happy to read you now. Alhumdulillah.

Anonymous said...

This post could be expanded into a whole book, it's so rich. Enjoyed reading, as always.