When it was announced that Meghan and Harry were moving to Canada, I had one thought: I bet they’re actually going to LA, the lucky so and sos, followed by now can’t we all go with them? You see, I grew up in Yorkshire and lived in London, but when I worked in Los Angeles for two years I discovered it was impossible to hold onto the grumpiness of my former life. Where the dark grey of winter mornings and moanings used to overwhelm me for a couple of months at a time, in the state of California it’s hard to hold onto a bad mood for even a couple of hours. I still spend at least a month of the year there, overdosing on the natural Vitamin D that falls from the sky.
Because in California, even if you’re in love with a polyamorist who seems confused by your olde worlde notions of romantic relationships only needing two people in them, all you have to do is look out of the window and see a shock of pink bougainvillea climbing up a wall, or glance at the jasmine blossom that lands on the sidewalk and parked cars overnight, and your mind feels whole again. There’s a reason California is full of people beaming at you to have a nice day, and it’s because it’s a distinct possibility that you actually will.
But why exactly? Here’s five more solid reasons the Duke and Duchess – and you – will probably love it there.
People think they want to go to Cali for the warmth, but really the thing that grabs you is the light. Hollywood is the home of film-making because the particular quality of sunlight in Los Angeles drew all those early cinematic types to shoot their movies there, making buildings and bodies look equally beautiful. It fills the sky in a way that suggests anything is possible – not tomorrow but right now.
When I first moved there, it took me a while to work out the quiet, unspoken rules of style. Until a barefoot poet friend who actually grew up in Beverly Hills explained it to me – whatever your style is, just do it with conviction. For example, yes there are an awful lot of bikini waxing salons in her hometown, offering to rip the whole lot off for you, “but if your thing is hairy armpits, then that’s absolutely great – you just have to own it,” she explained.
If you’re someone who always looks for the connection between things, then California lends itself to narrative – read Joan Didion and you’ll see what I mean. San Francisco is a tech city now, its movers and shakers working on ways to lure you into narratives; the storytelling of social media and the ways we can be persuaded to divulge our lives. While down in LA, a city that is entirely built around the film industry, the bookshops are actually extraordinarily vibrant because 85% of movies are based on books. California’s literary culture is less pretentious than New York’s and equally as compelling.
It’s not just the cities: California also has redwood forests and ski resorts with actual snow. There’s the secret beach town of Bolinas, where protective locals take down the signposts to hide its beatnik history, or the enlightenment communities and crashing waves of Big Sur. Then there’s Mount Baldy, where Leonard Cohen went off to renounce his womanising and live in a zen monastery up a mountain for five years, or the Napa Valley with all of its rich wine (Sofia Coppola has her own range at her dad’s winery). If your brain needs more cutting-edge stimulation, there’s the right-on bohemian academics at Berkeley, or Stanford’s tech geniuses of the future who go to work up the road in Silicon Valley before they’ve even graduated.
However much someone talks about building a wall, Latin American culture IS Californian culture, and I mean this literally, because California was part of Mexico until 1848. The rich exchange of people, ideas and food continues, with Latin film stars such as Ana de Armas and Gael Garcia Bernal going back and forth between the two Americas. There are dual-language state schools that teach in Spanish and English all over California, and taco trucks on every street corner. All Prince Harry has to do now is decide if he prefers Al Pastor or Carne Asada, with salsa verde (green sauce) or pico de gallo (the shredded tomato one) and he’ll fit right in.
What's Your Reaction?
VouxElan is a lifestyle magazine empowering our readers to find confidence, community and joy through Fashion, Beauty and Pop Culture.