Days to L.A. – 11
I know I said I was going to to be writing all sorts of insightful things about New York. But I’ve been working full babysitting days all week and trying to catch up with people before I go. I’ve also been letting the fact that I’m actually, truly leaving sink in for the first time, and it’s sort of paralyzed me. I haven’t wanted to do much of anything, because everything I have to do right now brings me one step closer to leaving the only home I’ve ever known, and it scares the living bejeezus out of me.
I bought my plane ticket a few days ago. One-way. LGA to LAX departing August 31st at 6:39PM arriving in L.A. at 11:03PM. I stared at the computer screen for about an hour before I was able to click “Submit” to make the purchase.
Today, I talked to my BFF, at whose apartment I’ve been staying while she and her new hubby have been on their Hawaiian honeymoon. She’s now in L.A. for a friend’s wedding, and when I spoke to her, she was on the Santa Monica pier. I said, “So, you’re in my future home! You’re getting to see it before I am!” To which she replied, “Eh. It’s not anything special,” then proceeded to list off the reasons why L.A. isn’t that special. A part of it is because she’s just not an L.A. person. She’s a dyed in the wool New Yorker, and ain’t nothing changing that. But another part felt like she was saying those things because she was trying to make it sound less appealing for my benefit, as if to convince me to stay home. Meanwhile, I felt myself getting a bit insulted, because as she talked about the people who do nothing but “talk to their agents on the phone” and talk about how “New York has seasons” and how the only difference between L.A. beaches and New York beaches is that “they have palm trees,” I was thinking to my self But, I want to BE one of those people talking to my agent on the phone. And I’d LIKE to live in a place where I don’t sweat like a piglet when it’s hot out or commute in a blizzard. And I like palm trees.
Which is funny, because not too long ago another of my close friends – a transplant to NYC from the Midwest – was talking about needing to get out of here, because it was too loud and busy and overwhelming, and I was defiending it with every cell in my body, feeling the way my BFF must have – insulted by the very idea that someone would want to leave this amazing city.
But it’s more than that. Because it feels like a personal insult. When my friend was talking about leaving New York, his talking about how much he hated it and needed to be somewhere other than this place I loved felt like a slight against me. New York is such a part of me, it felt like by insulting my city, he was insulting me. I hope that my BFF doesn’t feel that way – she must know how much I love her, AND this place. But I find it interesting that the cities in which we live are more than just cities. They’re extensions of ourselves. We are so emotionally invested in them, and allow them to become such a part of our identities that we defend their honors as we would our own.
And so choosing to move to L.A. sometimes makes me feel like I’m betraying that honor. It feels like I’m betraying myself, like I’m changing to become this other thing who isn’t me. It scares me to think that my friends and family think that this move will change me. Or perhaps, what scares me is knowing it will.
Then again, change isn’t always bad. If I didn’t think I needed a change, I wouldn’t be going in the first place. I don’t see it as change even, so much as becoming more myself. One of the best ways to get to the core of who you are is to put yourself in a new situation where no one really knows you; where you can’t fall back on old habits or fall prey to old routines. Where you have to deal with brand new situations as they come and decide in each moment the kind of person you want to be. Of course, this is possible staying in one place, but you have to work harder, and not everyone is capable of doing it. Most of us need a huge kick in the pants to test ourselves. L.A. is my kick in the pants now, much like Dublin was eleven years ago.
I’m excited and happy about the move. I’m sad because I’m going to miss my friends and family. I’m thrilled at the prospect of new opportunities. I’m disappointed in myself for “selling out” my New York-ness. And I’m scared of the unknown, and have the irrational fear that my new city will laugh in my face and lift its leg to piss all over me. This has been my emotional rollercoaster lately. Enjoy that.
Incidentally, the friend I mentioned above was supposed to be moving out West around the same time I am, and has instead decided to stay in New York and has just leased a new apartment. So, a part of me feels that, even though I’m leaving, I’ve had a part in making a convert. At least that’s something.
This moment of introspection has been brought to you by Altoona Hills kosher Australian wine, and Mr. and Mrs. Golub.