My psychiatrist has taken to asking me regularly, “what do you do for fun?”
By regularly I mean during our monthly appointments so he can check up on how I’m doing on my medications, but it’s honestly the only time I’ve been asked that question in a while.
What do I do for fun?
My boyfriend and I used to do a lot of things. We went to sporting events (love a trip to Dodger Stadium, me), visiting different neighborhoods and exploring the restaurants and bars. Traveling, out of the city, out of state, out of the country. We had plans for museums (neither of us have been to the Getty), we would visit friends and family. Concerts and more intimate shows and performances, and of course going to Joxer Daly’s nearly every weekend during the season.
There was always something to do, somewhere new to go, or something new to see. Or something new to us to experience. So much so that my previous more home-based hobbies that I had cultivated living in the suburbs of Houston of reading and video games and watching television seemed to fall by the wayside.
So that monthly question — “What do you do for fun? What have you been doing?” — has made me pause. Struggle for an answer. Because really, the fun things that I used to do have mostly been canceled. Traveling isn’t really in the cards, at least not more than a carefully planned road trip, exploring new bars and restaurants also means careful planning and precautions, museums are closed, concerts and live performances are canceled, friends and family are only on the cards if it’s small groups or outside and well masked up.
Even if the roles were reversed, if we were in Houston and I were able to show my boyfriend my city and we were able to enjoy the things Space City had to offer, I don’t think we’d be able. Harris County, which encompasses the majority of the Houston area, is currently in what they call a Level One Threat — which boils down to basically staying home. “Level one signifies a severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning outbreaks are present and worsening and that testing and contact tracing capacity is strained or exceeded. At this level, residents take action to minimize contacts with others wherever possible and avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs like going to the grocery store for food and medicine,” according to ReadyHarris.org.
Los Angeles has its own threat level system, putting the city in Orange which essentially means the same thing — high risk, minimize contact, stay home if you can. As of October 6th, there are 275, 856 cases in Los Angeles County, including Long Beach and Pasadena. Many places are still outdoor services only, the things we would’ve done require careful planning or not partaking in at all.
So where does that leave me, a writer who planned on writing about life in Los Angeles for her brand new blog?
It leaves me to write a piece like this, about how life in the pandemic really does keep you from enjoying what most of the city is known for, what it has to offer.
That’s okay. That means I’ve been able to reconnect with those old hobbies of reading (audiobooks have really helped me get through things), video games (although I stopped my Spyro playthrogh because Ripto’s Rage is not as fun as I remember it), and watching TV and movies - movie and TV show nights with my boyfriend, and one of my best friends that I happen to work for as well.
This is not meant to be me complaining, either. I adore Los Angeles, and I chose to live here for a reason when I knew it was time for me to make my own home. I’ve never felt more comfortable in a city, that it was made for me and me for it, than Los Angeles.
And I know it’ll be back. I can keep supporting the places I do love, like Joxer’s. Make sure that they are still there when the world begins to open up and we can still enjoy going to places and doing things again. Oftentimes what I miss most is just going to a new neighborhood and walking the streets, being able to go into whatever place I please and experience something new. And we can still do that to an extent — we just can’t go into shops or bars or restaurants without some heightened level of anxiety.
There’s still landmarks to explore, like Griffith Observatory (at least from the outside), Lake Hollywood Park, the Sunken City, the Old Zoo, and the Bradbury Building. There’s still history, in Downtown and Hollywood, and historic neighborhoods to boot. All these things are still there, and though I haven’t given myself the time or the permission to go exploring (I’ve been working a lot, to be honest), they will still be there.
Even as the world feels increasingly like it is crumbling around us, around me, like we are all continuing to slow dance through this awful fire, these things are still here. And that’s comforting, to think about, when sometimes I truly don’t know what the world will look like in a month’s time. It’s easy to feel defeated by the whole pandemic, to feel like everything we would’ve done or gone to is closed anyway so what is the point.
It’s easy, for me, to use work to fill that void — that there is nothing else to do so I’ll work. I’ll nest in my home and finally make it the way that I want to, but even that will be finished soon.
This city and these places were here long before me — me, who moved here in 2012. They will be here long after me hopefully, whenever that will be. There are still places to explore that require less careful management than restaurants and museums and bars.
Just have to give myself permission to go seek them out, and this is the first step.