To Live & Die in L.A.

For a mere 3 months way back in 2007, I lived in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California. A friend of mine had been living out there for a while and liked it. I went to visit for a few days in 2006 and really liked the area that she was in. I had been itching to not live in Illinois since I was old enough to realize that it was possible, so moving out West with her seemed like my way out. Fresh out of college, with all the dreams in the world, I embarked upon this move with a halfcocked plan. I had a little bit of a nest egg set aside, put out feelers for temporary agencies in the local area, and put all of my faith in my friend to find us somewhere to live. She was currently living with another person, but was looking for a place for she and I to live. Working at a postal stamp machine company, I was counting down the days until I would leave.

My initial plan was to leave in August after my birthday, but somewhere along the line I got a bit anxious and moved my move date up a month. Things worked out perfectly because my friend (who was from the midwest) had 5 days off from work, so she decided to fly back home, visit her family, and then drive cross-country with me back to LA. I was stoked! I remember a lot of people telling me that I would not make it. Some said that I would not be able to last living so far away from my family. Others warned me of the perils of trying to not only find employment, but a place of residence upon first arriving there, but I simply brushed all of the naysayers aside.

I should have taken heed to their warnings because my time in Los Angeles ended up being pretty sad. My friend and I had a helluva time finding an apartment and ended up in a short term sublet. The sublet was a studio and let me tell you, two women + 1 studio = NO THANK YOU MA’AM. I was jobless for the first couple weeks and bored out of my mind. I ended up taking a job that was horrid and unsatisfying (telephone interviewer for Nielsen). Not to mention, it paid peanuts. I had to call home to my parents to ask for money a couple times to make ends meet. Meanwhile, my roommate was firmly established in her job and making a decent amount of money.

My days consisted of scouring the classifieds for apartments, going to interviews with temp agencies, and working a few hours for Nielsen. Soon, I landed a job through a temp agency that paid more than Nielsen and was full time and things began looking up. Even though it was a temp gig, my bosses liked me and were looking to make me permanent. I made friends with a couple people at the job and was starting to get used to my new surroundings.

Our sublet was running out and I was growing increasingly irritated with my roommate because to me it seemed like I was doing all of the footwork as far as finding us a place to stay once the sublet ran out. We kept getting denied for apartments and I was blaming myself. My credit wasn’t (and still isn’t, but I’m working on fixing it) the best and I felt as if I was to blame. Everything was falling apart and felt like nothing was going right. Still though, I was not ready to admit defeat. I kept working, apartment hunting, getting turned down, while worrying myself into a tizzy.

We were closing in on our last couple of weeks in the sublet with no apartment in sight. My roommate and I were going to look at an apartment in Korea Town that seemed promising. I’d spoken with the landlord, explaining our credit woes, and he was willing to work with us. We arrived at the property and there was no one there. Went to the onsite office and no one there. Called the numbers we had on the landlord and there was no answer. In that moment I was completely and utterly defeated. I was tired of trying only to be met with opposition.

Leaving from the property (we drove in separate cars) and heading to work, I called my roommate and simply said, “I’m done.” I had no more fight left in me. She offered alternative solutions and asked me not to given in so easily, but I could not be swayed. The last thing that I was doing was giving in EASILY. Lord knows that I did not want to go back home. I did not want to be considered a failure. I did not want to have to face the “I told you sos” and sympathetic shakes of heads. But I had to. Otherwise I’d be living in my car and showering at the Y. Clearly that was not the answer.

I remember calling my ma and telling her that I was coming home. She was overjoyed because she never wanted me to leave in the first place. She insisted on flying in to meet me and drive home with me. I think I drove about 22 of the 27 hours that it took us to get home, fortified by Mountain Dew Amp alone.

When I got home, I expected to be bombarded by people who were quick to tell me “I told you so” or rub my failure in my face. There were a couple who did such things, but were too coward to actually say things to my face. Gotta love some of the punkass gossips in my family. At any rate, for the most part I was welcomed back with love and support. That didn’t stop me from thinking that Iwas the biggest failure in the history of failing.

I moped around for a couple days, called my agency I worked with in Chicago, and had a new job within a couple of weeks. I missed my LA life terribly though. It was fun being so far away from every and every thing that I used as a crutch. I tried new things, had some fun adventures, and was the most spontaneous than I’ve ever been. Every now and again, I revisit my decision to come back home. I play the what if game, knowing that there were no other plausible solutions but to come back home.

I’m still determined to leave Chicagoland behind. Something deep in me just thinks that what I am looking for is not here. I’m not meant to live here like everyone else in my family is. I’m not content in this stagnant job, life, world that is Chicago. The only way for me to break free and get things in order (I think) is for me to leave. . .

2 Responses to “To Live & Die in L.A.”

  • MJW says:

    Loved learning more about you in this post! I say do it! Teacher or writer is so your passion! As you know, you can always move back home! 🙂

  • phillykat says:

    if you feel that way then get ghost. you'll never be happy if you don't

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