DTLA is either your favorite ex-girlfriend or your soulmate (sometimes both).  
Alex and I moved to the Fashion District, Memorial Day weekend in 2004. Hal did it.  It was the housing tour. We came because Alex was familiar from his filming crew days, and me...from all the 2000 election protests.

Due to an error in the leasing office, we were given an incorrect move in date, and we lived in the building for a week before the rest of our neighbors moved in.  We spent the week using the model units shower, as the water in the building wouldn’t be turned on until then.  And, I started blogging at Ginny Here and There.

Our first Christmas in DTLA was one to remember.  As we received no gifts from our out of town family and friends.  We soon realized that our mailman was leaving boxes “at the door”, as in the corner of 7th and Los Angeles.  Skid Row enjoyed fresh jams, jellies, canned peas, carrots from my dad’s backyard in Washington State.  No regrets.

Then came the night we found Golden Gopher. I don’t know if that was before or after we decided to partner up with the neighbors and have a big huge multi-loft housewarming.  Then, there was that time we all sat in the courtyard, playing a serious game of pattycake, and Parker Posie and I became BFF for all of 5 minutes.

At the same time, Alex and I switched churches from Santa Monica to DTLA. Our non-DTLA friends, who promised to visit...never came.  And, our world got smaller, and fuller.

We lived on the same street as the Midnight Mission.  I would tell people that I wasn’t upset about the streetlights not working, as the crack pipes light my way.  I have had this long time comfort that since I’m not in DTLA to sell drugs, that I wouldn’t be a target for any crime.  So, I’ve used this unreal and sincere sense that anyone, everyone who calls DTLA home...is my neighbor.

So, imagine my pollyanna sense of bewilderment when I see little kids peeing on the street.  Old men, peeing in the shadows.  Then, watching and old woman pooping on the sidewalk.  I couldn’t imagine having to poop or pee while people just walked by me.  I can’t poop if I know someone could be waiting for my stall.  I heard about toilets getting installed around the City.  Then I heard that a Westside Councilwoman was holding up the install in her district, and as a result - NONE of the Automatic Public Toilets (APTs) would be installed in any of the other districts.  

There was this blog - BlogDowntown.  Eric and Ed...they were the hot beat reporters.  Man..these were the days.

And, then we moved to PE Lofts.  Mostly because back then (like again now) you could hop from place to place, taking advantage of lease-up opportunities.  We followed the “lease up” team to PE Lofts, met MORE people who would become lifelong neighbors (cough...Alexandra, Alexie, Hanna, , the punk-ass kid who stole my favorite white towels, and the all important Art The Ass). I ran for neighborhood council, on two planks… Work to get “Dash after dark” and these dang APTs.  

I got onto DLANC, I met Don Garza, TK, Bytof, Celia, Jim, Ben, and tons more. Rocco, Jessica,  DLANC...Frank, Coach Ron, Russ, Russell,  Anastasia, , Neal, Amanda, Ken, Michael, Brady, Victor, Leslie Taplin, General Jeff, OG, and omg.  So Many more people. 

Then, I was working on this project - Regional Connector...and I met EVEN MORE people.  And then, all the sudden I was 6 months pregnant, had to move to a new apartment...our first time into the infamous Barry Shy property.  

Alex and I found ourselves very much feeling all alone in DTLA...Until I realized that another group of people would be joining our world...parents.  Hat tip to Chinmaya, Simon, Amany, Alisa, and more.

Then, Rotary...and who can forget the time Dearden’s asked us to visit, and provide feedback on what the new “lofters” wanted.  I hate that word.  Lofters...the misconception that all these people moving into DTLA only lived in lofts. 

And, there we were...a kid...in a loft.  In DTLA.  People kept asking if we were moving. Almost as often as when they’d ask if I was going to have more children.  (No on both). Sure, we’ve moved a couple more times (Financial District, Union Station adjacent, and now in South Park).  We’ll be forever renters (thanks Student Loans), and this is just where we belong.

The challenge with having a child in DTLA isn’t so much the location of a school, access to childcare, or where does she play outside.  The challenge with having a child in DTLA is that my family is often described like a novelty.  Like we are something unexpected in DTLA.  We love DTLA more than she loves us.  And, I’m just fine with that. Sure, there’s real inequities in how we treat each other. There’s a stigma attached to those who appear to be too well off, or live on the street.  Our neighborhood is quick to judge, and slow to appreciate.

And, in all of this, there’s a glory. (Watch out, here comes the soapbox). DTLA is a small town, in a big city.  We find a way to rely on each other - it may be through a boozy-brunch, coffee time, a stroll...or in a serious time of reflection.  The cranky offsets the beauty.  The horrors of mental illness can make way for a bright spot of relief.

DTLA - this is the neighborhood that just keeps taking it in.  This is a neighborhood of yes.  Yes, density, yes - to more people.  Yes - to people who care, who want to build a community of Yes.  A community of open hearts, minds, and souls.  This neighborhood loves me, and this neighborhood has the capacity to love you even more.

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