Home. The City of Angels. SoCal. LA. We made it back.
I once heard someone say that once you live somewhere for ten years, you are really from there. Does Los Angeles count for me? I celebrated my ten year anniversary of moving here at the end of April.
Of course, I took some breaks. I spent a year in Atlanta, chunks of time away to make a movie in Minnesota, to travel Ecuador, to all over North America when I worked jobs for Porsche, a long time to shack up with the husband in Michigan….
Still, I felt like an Angeleno the moment I arrived.
I’ll never forget that flight. My boyfriend at the time and I had decided to move to LA, not New York as we had always planned. I honestly forget why. We were living in Sarasota, Florida, doing a long run of a show. Evita. A ten week run. Maybe we were burnt out on the idea of eight shows a week for a while. I think maybe his dad suggested to us we try LA. I know NYC had always been the end game…we had visited for long periods and loved it.
Maybe it was a fluke. Something about the movies drew us in. I really can’t say a decade later.
The new plan was LA, and it was a complicated one. My best friend was getting married back home right when we had to move. I flew to Indiana to be her maid of honor, and the boyfriend had to drive across the country with all our stuff, including our vocal and travel averse cat, and we would meet there.
We had a place to crash for a few weeks, a few bags of clothes and personal items, and that big cat. Plus one half wrecked car between us. I was expecting a check from a promo job sometime in May. That was it. No money saved, no prospects. Still, we were more than prepared to make a go of it.
As I boarded my flight in Indianapolis, I was exhausted. I loved helping my friend get married, but I also got accidentally locked out of her apartment the night before, had to run around to get everything together for a cross country move, and generally, weddings are exhausting.
However, as we flew west, I perked up. This was before movies were free on planes (and $6 was a big spend for me!), before you could connect to wifi (money or not, it didn’t exist), before I had an iPhone- just my little nano. I hadn’t had time to sensibly pack books or magazines for the 4 1/2 hour flight. I had nothing to do but listen to music, look out the window, and take in what was happening.
I had that feeling in your stomach you sometimes get, that one where you’re about to start something huge. Where everything is changing, and you can feel it in your bones. You know this feeling? I like to think it’s when you’ve tuned into yourself so deeply that you are truly aligned with who you are, that you’re vibrating on just the right frequency.
Some say it’s when you’ve taken away your fear and stepped directly into your path that you would certainly take if you only followed your intuition. Some would say this path is your “fate.”
I don’t know what it is exactly, but for me, it meant the feeling was right. It was just right. More right than anything I’d ever felt.
As the plane approached the west coast, I spoke for a moment with an older woman in the middle seat. I asked her if this was home or visiting, and explained I was moving to LA, but I had never been there. I had never seen it.
That hit me as I said it out loud. I had no idea what I was moving to. What to expect. She felt it was a pretty big leap to move across the country sight unseen.
I thought for a second I should feel more nervous…but I didn’t. I just didn’t.
I looked out the window, and watched it roll in under me. The city, the ocean, the sprawl. I began, inexplicably, sobbing. Crying as I felt released from my past, crying tears of excitement for my future.
I can’t explain it. I just knew I was home.
I walked through LAX to get my luggage. Just the week before, I’d read about Beyonce sighted here, strutting through the airport, Deréon clad. I watched for her, just in case. My eyes were huge, trying desperately to take everything in. I was so excited, I worried my heart would burst.
My boyfriend picked me up- late. I didn’t know yet that picking someone up at LAX was an all day endeavor. I had yet to learn that, in LA, late is on time, and early is weird.
We went and had dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I can’t remember which one, where it was, what I ate. Only the red Chinese decor and the paper placemats.
It was all perfectly magical.
I’ve never been able to become a Los Angeles cynic. I know the people who are from here, who don’t really get the appeal. I know the actors burnt out on LA, who say they would never live here if not for the industry. Already, many I knew from back when have started leaving. I know so many people who complain about the traffic, who make fun of the people, who tout New York or Chicago as more “authentic.”
I’ll never understand. I love this city so much. I love it, I love the people, I love the history, I love that the film industry came into its own here. I love walking where the greatest stars walked. I love the ocean and the mountains. I love the weather. I love that any night of the week you can find ten things to do without trying.
I love it so much that, ten years after that plane landed, I put down real roots. We bought a place here, a beautiful home. I’m so proud of it, I could burst. It’s small, it’s quiet, it’s perfect.
Just like when I came to LA, we bought it sight unseen. That move out west taught me to trust my instincts. This place felt right. It felt like home, even though I had never set foot in it. Our offer was accepted long before we would set our eyes on it, before we could walk the floors, flip the light switches, step into the closet, try the water pressure.
As I sit here now, I can say we were right. The feeling of being in your home, a permanent home, inside the city that is your home…this is peace unlike anything I’ve ever known.
Take the leap. Listen to your heart. Follow your gut. All that cliche crap…I can’t recommend it enough. This city teaches me that time and time again.
Los Angeles, I’m back. I’m where I belong. No matter how many times I fly away, I will always return. I’m me here.