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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I'm Actually Leaving: Moment of Weakness

To misquote Will Ferrell, "I love wine, wine-y, wine, wine!" That wasn't it? Oh well.

Countdown: 4 weeks and 5 days until departure.

So, I've been feeling my reality lately. This past weekend, I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond to spend a gift card I had. I figured I could buy a few things for traveling, so I went and took my time on a Saturday afternoon. The bed linens, the curtains, the kitchen appliances, I enjoyed it all. I love interior decorating. Making a new apartment feel like a home, customizing a space, choosing a new color scheme. I love making things cozy. Until it hit me. As I was wandering down each isle, I became more and more aware of my situation. I have no home. I can't decorate, I can't "nest", I can't get comfortable. This is my reality.

As I browsed the bedding section, I fought back tears. Stay strong. I can't take any of this stuff with me. Who really needs stuff anyway? I don't. Fuck stuff.  We Americans think we need so much until we realize we don't. The problem is, we don't realize it until it's too late. But I have. I know that this is only more crap I won't need later. More things that will take up valuable space in my carry-on. Whatever I need, I can get in Italy.

Next thing I knew, I was bawling my eyes out sitting in my car alone in the parking lot. What am I doing? This is real. This is happening. I don't have a home, I won't have a home for a long time. I can't believe I'm doing this.

As I'm sitting there, totally aware of my normal behavior, and consciously avoiding it, I thought about my adult life and how many places I've lived, decorated and felt comfortable in. That made me cry harder. This was the first time it hit me. I already missed the people, the places, the feelings. I was scared to leave home.

Friday, June 19, 2015

10 Things I Will and Will Not Miss About Los Angeles

With every day that goes by, I am mentally preparing to live in an entirely different world. Along with the preparation comes a running list in my head of things I'll when I'm walking my dog on a warm summer evening and I stop to take in the moment and let the sunset kiss my face. Shit like that.

So, let's get to it.

Things I will miss....

1. American Breakfast.
I love eggs. That's a weird statement, but it's true. Omelets, scrambles, over easy eggs with french toast. I love it all. I enjoy having a large breakfast to start my day, and what's even better is having all the options we do. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Ok, I'm seriously sad now.

2. LA weather.
Do I really need to explain this one? Every single day is beautiful here. Even the gloomy days are nice. They're refreshing and welcome. I mean, we have to take advantage of the handful of gray days we get a year...when else would the twig girls get to enjoy their iced pumpkin spiced lattes and take selfies when they're "deep in thought"?

3. The mix of cultures.
LA is a huge cultural melting pot, and I love the fact that I could just hop over to Little Tokyo, Korea Town, Little Armenia, or Olvera Street when I need some spice in my life. Speaking of all those places....

4. Lots of food options!
Not only is LA known as the Foodie Capitol of America (ok, maybe I made that up) because of all the amazing chefs who come here to try something new, but the diversity in cultural food options is amazing. Growing up in Southern California, you learn very quickly what good Mexican food looks and tastes like. I love it, and I love the fact that on any given day of the week, I can get authentic, delicious Mexican food to satisfy my craving. Then, another day, I can get amazing Japanese, Italian, or Mediterranean food. I think I might die in Europe....I need options!! I'm spoiled.
The more disgusting it looks, the better it tastes!

5. Following your dream
No, it's not a myth; the streets of Hollywood are literally paved with gold...okay, it's actually glitter, but it gets the point across. I love that people from all over the country come here in search of fulfilling their dreams and that anything is possible here. It truly is amazing and you can always spot the fresh new faces full of hope before regret, doubt, depression, and desperation take hold. Hey, the restaurant businesses in LA need to stay afloat somehow, right?

With all that being said, let me tell you things I will NOT miss...

1. Plastic bodies and fish faces.

Fake boobs, swollen lips, bad botox, and everything in between. Everyone is trying to look like they're 26 and let me tell you, it's sad. Not hot, not attractive, not sexy-- sad! You really get to see the insecurities of a person. It's everywhere. I will not miss that.

2. Shallow people
"What do you do?"
"I'm an actress!"
Not only is everyone you meet anywhere trying to be an actress, singer, model, or all three, but you overhear their shallow, stupid conversations in public all the time! You really can't escape it. Scratch what I said earlier about loving the fact that everyone moves here to follow their dreams. It's annoying! It gets to the point where you assume everyone you meet is in the industry ("The Industry" meaning film, obviously), and the place you're eating dinner has signed headshots of people you've never even heard of covering it's walls when you realize your server's face is among them. I can't even explain to you how annoying it is, as a local who grew up here, to be constantly bombarded by starry eyed actors/models/singers who "just wanna make it". Ugh, give it a rest! You came to the most concentrated pool of your own competition in the world, what makes you think you're any different than anyone else?! I. Can't. Stand it! Also, people who have ridiculously amazing bodies. You look great, but don't you have anything else you're working on? People go hiking in full hair and make up just in case. It's truly ludicrous. Rant over.

What was I talking about?  Oh, right...

This is a sensitive topic for me. I loath it with every fiber of my being. I am so excited not to have a car in Italy.
This is real. I know this exact spot.

4. WASPs
White Anglo Saxon Protestants. Or, for the lay person, rich, entitled middle-aged white people. I grew up as a minority in the ghetto, so I may be a little biased here, but I notice it all the time! Old rich white men in their sports cars cutting people off driving (and their fake, botoxed wives in the passenger seats) anger the crap out of me. And, the worst part is, they run rampant in LA. I will not miss their mentality that money fixes everything and status is the kind of car you drive. We all know your wife is cheating on you and you cry yourself to sleep at night. Can money fix that, asshole?! Also, they treat my dog like he's a monster.

5. Keeping up with the Joneses (or, Kardashians).....god, I can't stand them....
All the celebrities who live here set the precedent. Everybody who's a nobody wants to be like them. People wear masks here everyday and make themselves sound like so much more than they are. It's fake. So, if you haven't been following, their insides AND their outsides are fake. I am so looking forward to get out a place where fashion is appreciated, but the passion and history and experience is important.

So, there it is, folks. What I love and hate about living in LA. I can't wait to move to Italy!

Have any additions or questions? Leave a comment!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Breaking Up to Travel

Ah, the familiar phrase I've Googled many, many times.

If you're thinking about it, you're already on your way. I'm speaking from experience. In the 3 major relationships in my adult life, I can honestly say that my wanderlust was a major factor in our break ups. Italy is seriously my, mister?

Exhibit A: College Sweetheart, who we will call "J".

J was every girl's dream. 6’4” collegiate athlete, gentleman, scholar, and my god we were hot between the sheets.  Seriously, best sex of my life, for THREE straight years! He was an aquarius and we worked. However, he wanted the typical American dream: white picket fence, beautiful blonde wife with a heart of gold (that could have been me), anglo babies, and to retire on our pensions where we would travel once a year to an English speaking country. Snore. Clearly, that wasn't my dream. It wasn't until later I realized this and our problems arose. After getting our own apartment that year, his getting accepted into a masters program, having our 3 year anniversary, and celebrating Christmas with each others' families, all of a sudden I felt panicked. A week later, I broke it off. It was the biggest heart break I had ever experienced, but what was even harder was that I did it to myself. I had to live with my decision. From then on, I knew I needed to travel. We had fought about Italy, mostly, in the last stretch of our relationship and every day I felt more and more sure of my heart's wants. I needed to go. He didn't understand and that's where we divided. A month after we broke up, he was already dating another girl. The day I came to say goodbye since I was moving back to California, I told him that I knew he was going to marry the new girl and I told him I was going to crash his wedding. He ended up getting married to that same girl 4 years later. Their wedding was last month and I just found out last week. FML…hence the “that could have been me”. The rest is history, I guess. Nothing compares to your first love. You’re vulnerable, open to new things, and want it so badly to work out. You imagine getting married and having babies, and what it would be like to live out your happily ever after. To this day, nothing has come close to that relationship in all the ways that made us so great. I know he’s happy now, and I’m happy for him. As much as it hurt, I know I made the right decision and am so happy I did.

Exhibit B: The Fun One, who we will call "A".

A was the next serious relationship I had after moving back to California, post J. It had been about a year since the break up and I was ready to try love again. I knew I didn't want anything too serious, and A seemed like the perfect choice. He was fun, social, outgoing, and spontaneous. I loved it all. I didn't want anything serious; serious meaning "ready to get married, like yesterday", which I had experienced when I was casually dating around before I met him. Yeesh. A seemed like the perfect guy for where I was in life. He was actually the one who had helped me get to Italy in the first place, and for that, I am eternally grateful. They say some people come into your life for a reason, and I truly believe A was in mine to help me get to that place. We had a ton of fun, and went out almost every weekend with our amazing group of friends. When I came back from my 2 week trip to Italy, he realized that he "didn't want to be without me" and asked me to move in. I was extremely hesitant, but sometimes you gotta take chances in life. So I did. As the relationship went on, I realized it just wasn’t right. Maybe I outgrew our dynamic, or just felt that I knew there was something else out there for me, but I knew in my heart that it was time to go. He's a sweet guy and I still think positive things about him, but he wasn’t for me. In the midst of everything between my first trip to Italy and our breakup about a year later,  I had already planned a second trip to Italy and was going to be an Au Pair in Florence that summer. After our relationship ended, I swore to myself that I was going to keep my head down and focus on my trip that was coming up in 4 months....well, that didn't go as planned….

Exhibit C: S, The Creative One.

What a roller coaster this relationship has been. I met S only shortly after A and I had broken up and, I'll admit, I was in no place to start anything new. But, when has that ever stopped me?! Apparently, I'm a glutton for disaster. Textbook self-sabotager. S and I started seeing each other without realizing what we were getting into. He was new to LA, with a hopeful acting career and I was a poor dreamer living on my friend's couch until my trip, working at a coffee shop. He had this intelligent, artsy, sarcastic, hot nerd thing about him that I couldn’t resist. We hit it off right away and kind of stumbled into something without meaning to, and things got real serious real quick. Too much pressure too soon was a recipe for disaster. My second Italy trip was growing nearer and nearer every day and things were not getting any easier. In fact, they were really rough in the beginning. He had about 100 pounds of emotional baggage from his last relationship, and I was caught between looking forward and walking backward. I told myself I didn't want a relationship during my travels, but again, things happen. My second trip didn’t last as long as planned, but when I came back, shit got real. Next thing you know, we were 10 steps ahead of where a normal relationship should have been, but as we discovered, we’re not normal people. There was no time to really think about it, so we ended up signing a lease and moving into our very own apartment. Crazy. Through A LOT of ups and downs, we grew closer, understood each other better from our experiences, and learned a lot from each other. Things were going well after a year and half, and somehow we ended up rescuing our dog. I love my puppy child, don’t get me wrong, I just think hind sight is 20/20 and we really should have waited like we agreed. 2 months after getting a dog, I graduated with my bachelors degree and the travel bug bit again. Italy. This is about when I decided that I wanted to travel before it’s too late and right now seemed like my window of opportunity. S and I talked about it since he knows how important traveling is to me and we came to the agreement, through a hypothetical scenario, that he would support me if I wanted to teach English abroad. The following month, I enrolled in my TEFL course and here we are.

As you can see, Italy has been a major part of my break ups my entire adult life (among other things). I don't really believe in coincidence, which is why I think it is a serious calling. The feeling has been unshakable each time, like my soul is being called home. Cheesy, I know, but it’s true.

If you can relate, I’m telling you it’s worth it. The way I see it is, if you were meant to be with the person you’re with, then it will happen when and how it’s supposed to. If you’re thinking about leaving everything and everyone to gallivant the globe, then your mind is already made up. You wouldn’t be having those thoughts if it wasn’t what your heart truly wanted. It really does know what you want, and if I hadn’t followed mine when it told me to break up with J, I would probably be married and starting a life right now that I didn’t necessarily want. Sure, I’d be happy, but deep down inside I’d know this isn’t what I want. I told myself, after leaving J, that I did the right thing because I know that as the years went on, I would end up resenting him because I didn’t do what I wanted in my life. We would end up in an unhappy marriage and probably get a divorce all because I missed the signs from the universe and didn’t listen to my heart to go down the path I was meant to. Justify it however you want, but I can tell you with confidence that every hard decision I’ve made thus far in life has lead me here, and I couldn’t be happier.

I made my choices and had to live with them, but at the end of the day, I know that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. This is my time to be selfish, so I am taking full advantage. I am following my heart.

When I planned my second trip to Italy, I was debating my relationship with A, and found this amazing blog post that helped me through a lot. Reading it now is even more eye opening. Check out Bacon is Magic's post about her experience and how she got through it here --> I really loved the way she opened up and told her story.

Did you ever break up to travel, or try to continue your relationship long distance? How did it end up? Have any advice? Leave a comment and tell your story.