Michele Mandle: ‘I don’t honk anymore’

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Michele and her son in front of their home, which they could never have afforded in Los Angeles.

Michele Mandle
Wilmington, North Carolina.

“I got a Dodger’s cap as a birthday present that I asked for. I’m totally a California person.”

Michele Mandle had spent a total of 24 years in L.A. County before finally settling in Wilmington North Carolina.

“We moved for a lot of reasons, but I think the biggest reason is that we felt like we couldn’t have a home that was what we imagined we wanted to be in as a young family because of the cost of housing,” she said.

Wilmington has seasons (remember leaves turning, snow falling, that sort of thing) and also the beach. Michele reminded us that the Atlantic is actually warmer than the Pacific.

Wilmington used to be the third most popular location for film and TV shoots, and it still has some of that culture. Michele’s husband and her neighbor work in television and were both nominated for Emmys last year.

Also “Sleepy Hollow” is shot across the street from where she lives, “so my kid and I will sit on the porch and eat popcorn and watch all the big crew guys do their thing across the street so it’s almost like a teeny tiny taste of L.A. in a place that not all about entertainment not about film and television.”

What is Wilmington like?

Wilmington is a small city. There is a small university, and there is a community college. There is a river with a river walk. So it’s very touristy. There’s a downtown where every single day you’ll see a horse if you go downtown because there are horse-drawn trolleys that tourists go on.

There are beautiful old buildings. These gorgeous old churches of different denominations. We have the first Jewish temple in the state of North Carolina. They all have plaques so you kind of get a little history. Beautiful old cemeteries. And then if you go in the other direction ten minutes, there’s the beach and that the Atlantic ocean is warm… It’s just a really neat place.

What do you miss?

I miss the busy-ness. I miss the things about L.A. that are awesome and the things that I used to complain about. I really love Los Angeles. I love that there are people everywhere and I can hear three or four different languages in one day and I can walk to Barnes & Noble.

I regretted it [the move] for the first couple years though. I should be honest about that. I cried a lot when I first got here. When we first got here I was used to seeing movies at the Grove and when we would come here there’d be maybe five or at most ten people in the theater and I hated that I absolutely hated that. Or we’d go to a restaurant and there wouldn’t be a wait, and I used to hate to wait but I actually must have liked it, because here, I’m like where all the people?

Has it changed you?

I slowed down a lot, like, I don’t honk anymore. I used to honk at someone and I never do that you know, if it takes another light, it’s cool.

This is part of a series looking at why people are choosing to move out of Los Angeles. Are you leaving Southern California? Share your story!