Community / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 15 days I'll be posting 500 words a day as part of a creative writing challenge. You can join the FB group here.**

I had an existential crisis at the farmers market today. I was standing in the long line for the pupusa lady, which seems like it’d be an innocuous enough thing. Two minutes through my wait, a girl walked by and recognized the girl in front of me.  They were friends and the former joined the latter in line.  

“Hey do you want to go to Nordy Rack later?” 

I think it was the way she said “Nordy Rack,” as if it were the latest hashtag, that sent me into a claustrophobic panic. WHAT AM I DOING HERE. IS THIS ALL THERE IS.

I do not have anything against Nordstrom—I worked at several throughout high school and parts of college. Nor am I girl-hating; I am as vapid as the next guy. But there has to be more to Los Angeles than this.

I live in an area of the city that feels decidedly unpretentious to me, though it’s been called “the Brooklyn of Los Angeles.” (This is a not-quite-right, lazy description, and an insult to both Brooklyn and Silver Lake.) We walk everywhere. We know most of the baristas in most of the coffee shops within a mile radius of our house. The woman at the flower shop on the corner of Sunset and Sanborne still picks off a flower for Jonah every time she sees him. She has known him since he was itty bitty and she always greets us and too much time has passed so I can’t ask her again to remind me of her name. We know who is new to the music tent at the farmers market on Saturdays. I guess what I’m saying is, this feels like a real neighborhood so much that I frequently don’t remember that I live in the Los Angeles that people from the outside know, until I drive through Beverly Hills in all of its excess. 

And yet a little sentence, uttered casually from one friend to another, jolted me out of my idyllic enclave and into a world where teenagers budget for lip filler.

Both Ryan and I grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, in a town where cow tipping was a real (and cruel) thing, and going to the local smorgasbord was a rare, fancy night out for our family. Behind my house was a river (the same river later made famous by a mass murderer), and I spent many weekends and summer days foraging found material for makeshift forts. When I was nine, I captured a pet garter snake. 

During my pregnancy, we used to assure my mother-in-law-ish that we were moving back to the Northwest within five years because we wanted to raise our child in a place closer to nature. I knew that was a lie, but because it wasn’t malicious, I never bothered correcting it. In the time since those declarations, I joined a rapidly growing company, working with people that I’ve known for a long time. Collectively, we have a dream

So Ryan and Jonah and I will not be moving back to the place that we both grew up any time soon. Instead, we talk about building a cabin near both the water and the woods, to where we can regularly retreat with all of our friends. A place outside of Seattle, to a soil we know well.

Ironically, it'll probably be within a figurative stone's throw of a Nordy Rack.