That is how long I have lived in California.
It seems like just yesterday my friend (now roommate/soul sister) and I hopped into my car and drove cross country with no plan, a few suitcases of clothes, and a vague idea of what life would be like on the golden shores of Cali. In my original blog post about my decision to come to California I called it a, “work-cation, half work and half vacation, since it’s not a permanent move.”
This has become way more than a vacation. California has become the place where I live and work. The place where I own furniture and have registered my car. Recently I traveled to Texas to work on the Academy of Country Music Awards and when asked, “Where are you from?” 9 times out of 10 I replied, “Los Angeles.” I have gone home to New York three times now and each time I bring back more stuff (including all of my Harry Potter books) to make my apartment more homey. Honestly I’m not sure if I ever thought I would come back, but if I had thought that at the time it would have been almost impossible to get in my car and drive away.
A year ago I was struggling. I couldn’t find a job. I wasn’t happy. I was living at home wanting only to go back to college because I missed my friends. I needed a change of scenery and a kick in the pants. California was exactly what I needed and nothing like I expected. I found not only the change of scenery I was looking for and many, different jobs, but along the way I changed. I became independent. Stronger. Braver. Happier. A little bit tanner and blonder.
Living 3,000 miles away from home has taught me some very important lessons. That family is everything and you should appreciate every moment you get to spend with them. That technology is amazing because when you can’t be there you can at least Facetime sing happy birthday to your sister at midnight. I have learned that friends are the family you choose and that it is best to choose friends from Texas because they love to cook and share their food with you.
I think the most important thing I’ve learned though is that it is okay to ask for help. I call my parents daily to ask everything from how to best clean my bathroom to why my car is making weird noises. I ask my friends for rides to the airport and if they’ve lived in California longer than me for the best places to eat and drink. 95% of the jobs I’ve had came about because I emailed a co-worker and asked if they needed someone for their next show. I have never been very good on telling people what I need, but I am getting better. You need people to survive in this world, especially in a strange place. More than ever I have come to understand that the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” is very easily applied to adults too.
As much as I have learned this adventure has not all been easy. This is the furthest I have ever lived from home. I get homesick all the time, most days it seems to come out of nowhere. The worst part of homesickness is that there is no cure. It hits you in the gut and the only thing you can do is wait for it to pass. Another problem is the physical distance itself. Lately my grandmother has been in and out of the hospital and there is nothing worse than feeling helpless because I am on the other side of the country. Those are the worst days. The days where I cry and question what I am doing with my life and why I moved all the way out here. Sometimes I wonder if I should move back. But then my mom tells me how proud she is of me or I tell someone the story of how I moved out here and watch the awed expression on their face or I stand next to Chris Evans backstage at an award show or I do my taxes on my own and I know I made the right decision. Moving away from home is hard, it’s the hardest thing I’ve done so far, but it has been worth it.In one year California has already brought me so many amazing things. I can only begin to imagine what this next year will bring. Whatever comes, I’ll be ready for it, armed with my family and my friends and a newfound appreciation of what it means to find a home.
Los Angeles, I’m yours.