Summer is here! Just this past weekend we had a bbq for Devin's birthday and the weather was beautiful (if a little too hot).
This will be my fifth summer in L.A., which just blows my mind. I arrived here on the 4th of July, 2004. And so as I'm thinking about the experience of moving out here, I will share it with you all.
I made the decision to move to L.A. during my last semester of college. I knew that I wanted to work in the entertainment industry, and so it was pretty obvious that this is where I would need to live. And yet I put off committing to this cross country move for as long as possible. I didn't know exactly where I was going or what I was doing (I wish I could say that four years later, I had some idea). I'd even started filling out the paperwork needed to move to London after graduation, and work in a pub for 6 months. Yes, I still wish I'd done that, but at the time I thought it more important to grow up and get serious.
And so graduation came and went. Then I spent a week doing nothing but drinking with my friends until our lease was up on the house we rented. And then it was time to move back home with my parents, and work for the next 6 weeks. Somehow, I'd need to save approximately $10,000 while working part time at T.G.I. Friday's.
Meanwhile, I stayed in touch with friends who'd already made the move to L.A. and were getting settled in. They gave me advice, groaned about what an ordeal they had finding an apartment, told me that it was sunny all the time, and even though none of them had found work yet, they all seemed optimistic.
I planned to live with "J." (I won't use her name...this is how you know right now I'm going to paint her as the villian. Bwa ha ha.) J and I became friends during the spring semester, after we had a few classes together. Since we both planned to move out a little later than everyone else from our class, we decided to live together. She was hilarious. We got along well and had fun together. The future looked bright indeed! She would drive out in her own car and meet me somewhere along the journey out west.
Miraculously, my friend Dan offered to be my driving buddy, even though he had no plans to move to L.A. (Later, he would end up moving to London, oddly enough). And so at the end of June, I stuffed my car with all of my belongings --back then I still had my beloved car "Misty," who was tragically smashed to death in an accident last November-- said a sad goodbye to my parents and headed off to California.
Well, okay, first to Shaker Heights, Ohio to pick up Dan. But then to Sunny Los Angeles! Home to the stars!
Whenever I pictured what I thought my new life would be like, I imagined a sexy montage set to The Doors' "L.A. Woman," full of scenes that feature me in a classic car, or showcasing my newly acquired surfing abilities. Scenes of me ruling the business world like a female Ari Gold, walking quickly through an office, barking orders at nervous assistants. Scenes of me chugging beers with rock stars at bars on the Sunset Strip. I'm tan. I'm 20 pounds lighter. I'm pouring fruity drinks behind a poolside tiki bar at my very own mansion in the hills. Somehow it's like 1978.
I know I was delusional to think things would be so marvelous. But if future-me went back in time and revealed that after 4 years in L.A., my weekends would be spent doing laundry while Devin watches 80's comedies that all men his age are obsessed with, but which I've never found appealing (i.e. Stripes, Police Academy, Fletch), I'd probably never have made the move. I'd still be living in Upstate New York, working a clerical job at a real estate agency, and have 2 kids by now. You see, we must lie to ourselves every now and then.
So anyway we arrived in L.A. after about 5 days of driving. J somehow ended up about a day behind in her car, with her boyfriend, whom we'll call "Johnny." Because that was actually his name. I know! Who calls themselves Johnny unless they run a 1950's motorcycle gang? But there he was.
My dear friend Rachael hooked me up with her sister's apartment by the UCLA campus. Her parents were kind enough to offer it to me for as long as I needed during that summer, since their daughter was home from school.
So Dan helped me move my stuff in from the car, and then he went to go visit some family he had in the area before flying home a few days later. I thanked him for the company and we said goodbye.
J and Johnny arrived the next day and after they moved in her stuff, the Great Apartment Hunt began. Oh, but she also had a request. "Can Johnny stay with us for like a month or so after we find a place?" Do I have a choice?
My mom warned me this would happen. She seems to just know everything, and so when I told her J was moving out with her boyfriend, she told me there'd be trouble.
Already, I could see that life wasn't going to be all cabanas and free money. Damn it.
For the next two days we drove all around the city looking at apartments. And by "drove," I mean "sat still in traffic, sweating bullets in a hot stuffy car." We got lost. We ended up in awful parts of town. We saw beautiful apartments we could never afford, and tiny, dirty apartments we could. There were a few times when we too scared to get out of the car to even see an apartment. No one wanted to rent to us because we didn't have a source of income...yet. Then there was the apartment that we thought "would do for now" and so we filled out the application, and got our money in order.
And then of course, things had to go and get all sketchy. Suddenly the current tenants refused to leave. The landlord wanted to push back our moving day, etc.
So just when we thought we'd solved our housing problem, someone went and pulled the rug out from under us. Heartbroken, exhausted, and frustrated, we set out on yet another day of apartment hunting. Only this time, we were seriously miserable and cranky. After a few hours, we found another place that we thought would be fine, even if it wasn't perfect. So we filled out the application and got the ball rolling.
But as we drove back to our borrowed apartment, Johnny goes, "I don't know about that place."
"Why not?" we ask.
"Ehhhh, well. Nevermind."
"Say something right this second if you have something to say because we're about to take it," says J.
"Spit it out," I say.
"Have you ever had the feeling like something really bad is going to happen somewhere? I got that feeling in that apartment."
"Oh for fuck's sake!" I yell at him. I nearly swerve and drive the car right off the freeway in an attempt to put us all out of our misery.
So we get back to the borrowed apartment, once again back to square one and with Johnny all sore at me from snapping at him. I could hear my mother's voice in my head. "I just knew he'd be bad news."
I plop myself down infront of the TV. J and Johnny announce they are just going out to get her car washed and to take a break. "When I get back, we'll go back out and look."
I enjoy the next few hours of down time. And then finally, the J Team returns.
But J looks nervous.
And then she launches into a monologue, while I stare blankly, munching away on cheez-its.
"So, I have been thinking. And we've been talking. And I don't know if I can do this. I don't know if I want to live with you. I don't know if I want to stay in L.A. I don't know what I'm doing. This has all been really difficult, and I think I want to go home. Maybe, I don't know. So for now, I'm just gonna take my stuff. And we're going to stay in a hotel and think about the next plan."
I think I responded with something like, "Oooooookay." And then sat there quietly while they packed up her things.
She paused before she walked out the front door, "I'll give you a call later on and we'll figure it out." And then she was gone.
To this day, I'm still waiting for her to call me.
I spent that night drinking wine and calling all of my friends who lived in L.A. or other places, telling them about my grave misfortune. Good bye glamorous parties. Good bye bonfires on the beach. Things were obviously never going to go right from this point forward.
For the next month I alternated days of hunting for apartments and hunting for jobs. Eventually I got in touch with someone I worked on a project with during senior year and he was also looking for a roommate. "This'll do" I said to myself. And so we got a place in West Hollywood. A week later I got offered a job. "It'll do."
Months later my friend Kristen told me she'd run into J at a party, and that she was living in an apartment with Johnny somewhere in Hollywood. Odd, I thought she was going home. My friend also said J was upset because she thought I was going around telling people that she had just ditched me and totally screwed me over.
I don't know, is there any other way to see it?
But anyway, after all of this time, life is pretty good. I've got my wonderful boyfriend and my fabulous friends. I may not be ruling the business world like Ari Gold, but who wants to work that hard anyway? And I may not be partying with rock stars, but I sure do play a lot of Rock Band. And maybe I'm not hosting swinging parties at my mansion in the hills, but hey, we threw a pretty good one at our apartment on Saturday.