You know that older woman who wears chunky bracelets and fuchsia lipstick? She seems to wink at you constantly like you share a secret but you have no idea what it is. You want to turn away but you can’t. Something about her draws you in. You know that lady? She’s quick to tell the waiter he has it all wrong and just as quick to call him darling. She’s got the best stories. You want to drift to sleep cradled in her scandal, mystery, and romance. Then, with a swish of the wrist, she tells you none of it matters after all. You know that woman?
That woman is Los Angeles. Bold, brazen, and big-hearted LA. And right there in between her wink and her laugh is where I feel most at home.
In case you haven’t heard, I’m leaving Los Angeles. I’m packing up my small family and moving to Chicago – city of fabulous summers and excruciating winters.
My husband, Jeremy, will be starting grad school at DePaul University. It’s an excellent career move. And it’s an adventure. It’s all romantic and exciting.
And it’s breaking my heart.
Los Angeles is my home. It’s where I learned how to do ‘grown-up’ like a real grown-up. It’s where I became me.
Jeremy applied to various MFA programs in the winter, so I’ve had some time to get used to the idea of leaving. But I’m never one to count my chickens before they’re hatched. I refused to talk about “the move” or plan one single thing until he was accepted to a school.
When he got the news I was stupid happy. I was beside myself. Giddy even. I squealed and gushed over Jeremy with pride. After a week though, the magnitude of what was about to happen sparked a kind of tug-of-war in my heart; I was happy then sad, eager then mournful.
Jeremy wanted to daydream and plan and get excited. Half of me wanted to do that too, but the other half wanted to cry and pout and throw things. Sure, Chicago is a great city, full of awesome people. Not to mention amazing food, music, art, theatre, and that freaking gorgeous lake. But LA is my city, full of my family and my friends and all the things I love most in the world.
I went on like this for a few weeks – celebrating then moping. Being my husband’s personal cheerleader and then being an utter pain in the ass. One night I realized I needed to be all in. Life was just going to hurt too much if I insisted on digging my heels in. What I really needed to do was say goodbye.
So, I did just that.
I sat down on my couch and looked around. I remembered moving into this perfect apartment with a big, pregnant belly. I remembered doing yoga every morning to Van Morrison with the windows open wide. I remembered toddling around in those last weeks before Judah was born bumping into walls and door frames. I remembered bringing our baby home, lying in bed and staring at him for hours. I remembered his first steps on this floor and the sound of him running down the hall. I remembered all the parties and gatherings we hosted, all the dinners we cooked. I remembered all this. And as I did, I said goodbye.
And then I went back to every LA apartment I ever lived in and said goodbye. I said goodbye to Bruin Walk in autumn and the view from the top of Runyon Canyon. I said goodbye to the ocean sounds of the 5 freeway in Frog Town. I said goodbye to the sparkly sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard, overcast mornings at Santa Monica Beach, and the nighttime view from Perch. I said goodbye to driving over the river with the windows down, standing in line at Diddy Riese, gallery openings, movie premiers, and the smell of incense at Venice Beach. I said goodbye to my dream house in the hills, a little Spanish bungalow, overgrown with bougainvillea. I said goodbye to all of it.
I sat there on the couch for a good long time saying goodbye. I even said goodbye to the places I meant to go but never made time for. I mourned and cried. And when I was done with all that, I felt ready.
I’m still sad. And I still have to say goodbye to all the people in Los Angeles I can’t take with me. But my sadness no longer overshadows my excitement for the adventure ahead. I can hold space for both emotions at the same time. And that means I’m ready.
LA, thanks for the stories – the scandal, mystery, and romance. In the end, every bit of it mattered, every bit became me. I love you and all your fuchsia.
I’m going to miss all the fuchsia.