I’ve been nauseous all day trying to write this post. But first, let’s go way back . . .
Way back at the turn of the century, as I prepared to leave Nashville for Los Angeles, my dad and I stood outside together looking up at the night sky.
“You know because of light pollution that you won’t be able to see any stars out there in Los Angeles, right?” he said.
I don’t remember my reply. But his words didn’t faze me. Other people (who, like my father, would rather gnaw their own foot off than set it down in LA) said things like, “Your electricity bill is going to average $600 a month!” or my personal favorite, “Don’t move anywhere near Pico Blvd – that street is on COPS all the time.” Sigh.
There is this huge myth (at least for me) surrounding moving to – and leaving – Los Angeles. It goes something like this . . . A creative person from a small town braves everything to seek fame and fortune in the fabled, toasted land of milk and honey. So, by that definition, is leaving without that fame and fortune an admission of failure? By leaving am I saying, “You just can’t cut with the big boys, kiddo?” Maybe it’s time to redefine my myth.
I ran away to join the concrete sprawling circus that is LA at the age of 27 in order to lose everything in my old life that wasn’t working – my first marriage, my family, my expectations, my Tennessee phone number and my redneck past. In the process, I found myself. And snagged a 310 phone number, and eventually a newer, way better husband. I’m keeping both forever.
I built a life I love. Mission accomplished! So, let’s get on with it. :::Scoops up roller skates.::: LA will always be there in her vain glory. I know her curves and her secrets. I will be back. In fact, most of my friends and acquaintances won’t even know I’m gone, because other than my Venice friends, I see everybody else about twice a year. My official mailing address will still rock sunglasses and a hoodie in Santa Monica. Venice and LA are permanently stuck in my heart. They’ve made me who I am. I could never stay away.
This Thursday, I’m coming home to you, Los Angeles. For a few short weeks. I’m ecstatic the jacarandas will be in bloom. I’m clearing out my storage unit. And after that, I’m leaving in a more permanent way. The thought of my physical belongings no longer taking up space in LA makes me burst into tears right now. I don’t know why I care so much. I haven’t failed. Leaving isn’t failing. I’ve cycled through waves of friends who’ve come and gone in this mirage of a place. Those multitudes of transient friends give me comfort now.
I’ve tried to blame my husband. “You’ve never wanted to live in LA!” I whine to him, like leaving is his fault. It’s not. Simply, I’m leaving because LA is really expensive right now. I’m a little ashamed to admit that. Because fifteen years ago when I arrived, LA was really expensive then too. And we all had to hustle to make our lives work. But the hustle has really increased in a hugely non-sustainable way. At least for me.
If we moved back to LA next week, I would have to get a job immediately. The easiest, and possibly only job I’d be able to get right away would be motion picture accounting. And I just can’t do it anymore. Because that job seriously makes me want to kill myself. Maybe my job-myth is another myth I need to erase from my brain. So if anybody’s reading this that’s got a development job, or an assistant seat in writer’s room, speak up now. I’m a hard worker, crack researcher and I never met a copy machine I didn’t like.
I keep saying that the next place will present itself. And I still believe that’s true. But I think I’ve been hoping that the place that presents itself will upstage Venice and LA in coolness. Playa Del Carmen, Europe, Iceland have all been great adventures this year because of their inherently exotic natures. The next place has presented itself: Alabama. I know, I’m just as confused by it as you. But who am I to doubt the brilliance of the universe?
I’m going to live really cheap in Birmingham, Alabama. I’m going to sip sweet tea on the porch all summer long with my friends. It’s really weird, I have six really good friends in Birmingham. And they are all transient there too. It’s a lot like Venice and LA in that way. Come visit me on the porch this summer. Cause I won’t be there forever.
By the way, my dad was wrong. You can see the stars in the night sky in LA.
That picture above is Hot Dog on A Stick on the Santa Monica boardwalk. They make lemonade out of California lemons.