Would you look at that? It’s been exactly four months since we’ve posted on here. I know that’s not really good form for a blogger and I’ve probably left our readers in the dark, wondering what the heck Austin and I have been doing since January. In all honesty though, I think we really needed that time to figure out what we were doing in our new home of Los Angeles and try to make sense of our new lives. I don’t ever remember thinking this was going to be easy by any means; I guess I just didn’t count on it taking us this long to feel good about this life-changing decision.
So let’s recap, since it’s been so long! The first three months after we moved, things were looking pretty bleak (or at least they were to us). We had found an apartment, but finding work was another story. The jobs we managed to secure early on where infrequent and underpaying and Austin and I ended up having a very real discussion about whether or not we would be able to afford to stay in L.A. for very much longer.
By the end of January, we both had found full-time work that helped restore our energy and faith that we could indeed make it here. We focused on the positives in our lives and began to express our gratitude instead of sweating the small stuff. We started to climb out of that bottomless hole of fear and doubt and finally we can truly enjoy the place we’re in and everything it has to offer. I started volunteering with a great local animal rescue organization that coordinates dog adoption events and Austin found a pretty awesome driving range and golf course (one of his most favorite things) close by.
We’ve also found some really great things in and around Los Angeles that we just love: Runyon Canyon hiking and yoga, Black Market Yoga in Hollywood, Santa Monica and the Pier for a fun, beachy & touristy attraction, and some incredible, will-leave-you-speechless hot springs in Ojai, CA. On the weekends, we love to hike, bike and just enjoy the (almost) perpetual sunshine.
A friend gave us a travel list of places we need to visit in Southern California and we’re slowly crossing some of them off our list. This summer, we hope to visit Santa Barbara and San Diego for the first time and make a return weekend trip to Las Vegas. A little bit closer to us we have Laguna Beach, Malibu and Venice Beach to explore. We’re also starting up a savings fund again, so we can do a big travel adventure trip in the next couple of years (a week in Hawaii or a trip to Europe perhaps).
These last few months have been tough, but we’ve learned so much. We’re continuing to expand daily on our experiences, love and gratitude, and most importantly, our perspective.
Oh, Tennessee. We didn’t stay very long in Knoxville or Nashville, but we would love to come back to explore. Knoxville was our lunch stop and we grabbed some tacos at a burrito and margarita bar and then took a quick stroll through the square. The town had a lot of historic buildings combined with modern strips like Union Square and a nearby shady park. It reminded me so much of downtown Providence, R.I., especially with the mixed amount of business professionals on their lunch break and college students working on laptops outside of coffee shops.
We had originally planned on camping in Memphis, but instead decided to stay in Nashville at a hotel in downtown, which turned out to be a fantastic decision.
The happenin’ street in Nashville is Broadway. It’s a small strip but it’s packed with bars and BBQ joints. The Predators hockey team had a game at Bridgestone Arena, so the street was busier than normal for a Tuesday night.
The City of Music did not disappoint. Almost every bar had a rockin’ band that filled the street with country and bluegrass music. We ate pulled pork sandwiches at a double-decker bar called Rippy’s with a sweet outdoor patio strung with white lights.
After dinner, we ducked in to one of the bars to hear an amazing bluegrass band play for a few songs. I’m not a big fan of country music or “twangy”-sounding songs, but I was enthralled by the sounds of this band and the energy they had as they rocked out to the bar folks’ requests.
All in all, Tennessee was definitely worth seeing, if only for a short while. At least we know where to stay and where to go if we come back for another visit!
This morning, we had hoped to leave Massachusetts by 8:00 a.m.
This was 8:30 a.m.:
And this was 9:42 a.m.:
But we don’t mind that we started later than planned. We had a tremendous weekend with our family and, as Austin said, our friends, who are family. We left with a lot of love in our hearts to carry with us to our new home.
We couldn’t drive through Stamford, CT without stopping briefly to see our good friend Annie, who had laid out a delicious spread of bagels and Danish to hold us over until lunch. We couldn’t have asked for more.
We were SO happy that we bumped our trip up one day, and decided to leave on a Sunday. We hit essentially no traffic, and despite multiple restroom stops, we made it to Virginia in great time.
After enjoying a decadent meal and great conversation with Aunt Mary Beth and cousins Jen and Nadia, we are officially in food comas and are calling it a night, just before the stroke of 10 o’clock.
It’s more than official: I’m leaving the absolute BEST Place to Work.
SUNDAY, October 23, 2011 – Depart Massachusetts and head for Austin’s cousin’s place in Virginia.
MONDAY, October 24, 2011 – Drive from Virginia to a campground near Charlotte, North Carolina. From here we’ll start heading West via I-40.
TUESDAY, October 25, 2011 – Leave Charlotte, NC and begin our trek through Tennessee. Food/sightseeing stops in Knoxville and Nashville. We’ll stay at the Elvis Presley RV & Park Campground in Memphis (SUPER excited about this!)
WEDNESDAY, October 26, 2011 – We’ll drive almost 8 hours from Memphis, TN to arrive in Dallas, TX, where we’ll be staying with my friend Tara.
THURSDAY, October 27, 2011 – After leaving Dallas, we’ll head up to Santa Fe, NM, where we’ll be camping again in one of the state parks.
FRIDAY, October 28, 2011 – We’ll continue heading northwest toward the Grand Canyon, where we’ll camp for two whole nights! We’re going to do some serious hiking, maybe take a guided tour and take in the beauty that is this enormous crack in the Earth’s surface.
SATURDAY, October 29, 2011 – Exploring the Grand Canyon.
SUNDAY, October 30, 2011 – VEGAS, the place where it all began. We are staying at the Bellagio (I’m going to watch those fountains all day and night!) and we promise our parents that we A. won’t lose all our money, and B. won’t create any Hangover-esque memories (or lack thereof).
MONDAY, October 31, 2011 – We land in Hollywood, CA for Halloween night (funny how that worked out, right?) We heard something about Santa Monica Boulevard shutting down this night for the thousands upon thousands of people to come out and celebrate. We better think of good costumes!
We are at the one-week mark. Seven days from today, we head out on our road trip to reach the other coast. We are excited, nervous, anxious, eager, sad and happy all at once. We are saying our see-you-soons to all of our family and friends and mentally preparing to tip our hats to New England, drinking in every last sight, smell and sound to be fresh in our memories until we return.
We’ve come so far in just one short year. It’s difficult to think back to ten months ago, sitting in our Warren apartment, discussing potential departure dates and calculating our projected savings. We frequently altered our plan slightly, implementing small changes after realizing that we didn’t need so much stuff and that dragging a trailer carrying our furniture across the country just didn’t make sense. We thought about making sure we reached our savings goal of $10,000, and how that goal coincided nicely with leaving just as autumn was setting in, and before the snow dumped on the East Coast.
We’re here. We’re finally on our way to something new and exciting and terrifying all at once. We keep saying that we can’t wait until it begins, but our journey has already begun. It started the day we decided to make the move to California.
We have the support of countless family members and close friends and we can’t thank everyone enough for their encouragement, advice and love. We hope this blog will allow you to follow our journey closely, and to inspire you to follow your own.
We’ve left California, but only briefly. Our first visit was incredible and reassuring and, if it’s possible, has made us even more excited to move there. Now the real countdown begins, the three-week ticker, until our road trip that will lead us back to our new home.
During our five-day vacation, we spent a good amount of time calling the numbers of various Craigslist ads for apartments and relying heavily on our iPhone to navigate us to each new place. We saw nearly ten apartments, all of which were decent and had potential. No decisions were made, but we found comfort in knowing what was out there and figuring out which neighborhoods would suit our new lifestyles best.
Hollywood is the area we’ve decided on. We want to be in the heart of it all and Hollywood can give that to us. We’ll be spoiled if we find work close by, but even if we don’t, the commute to pretty much anywhere in the Greater Los Angeles area will not be as treacherous and exhausting as it may seem.
For now, we are happy with the notion that we’ve chosen well. There will most certainly be ups and downs, particularly in the first few months of adjustment, but we are excited to be a part of such an eclectic and fast-paced culture, where you see something different and eye-catching on every corner and no one is complacent. Everyone seems to be going after something different, and we feel welcomed to do the same.
We’ve landed. Hollywood is almost exactly as I’ve imagined. Big and flashy, billboards everywhere you turn, tall palm trees lining almost every major street, and an unnecessary number of cosmetic surgery offices.
That’s only Hollywood. We’ve also seen some beautiful and quiet residential streets with well-kept homes and neatly trimmed front yards, and we’ve traveled the length of Santa Monica Boulevard to feel the dip in the air temperature as we stretch closer and closer to the ocean.
I’m honestly relieved when I ask Austin what he thinks about this area, and he answers that he’s looking for a more peaceful place to call home. I still can’t get rid of these butterflies in my stomach. Maybe it’s nerves, maybe it’s being completely out of my comfort zone, and feeling tired from a long morning of travel. I’m so happy to be here, experiencing all of this, but at the same time, I feel on edge, and it doesn’t help when I start thinking about the tasks that lay ahead: finding a place to live and finding steady employment.
I’m ready to work hard and struggle and sacrifice to find something I love to do. I’m willing to put forth the effort to reap the reward. That willingness doesn’t make it any less easy. And as much as I’ve been looking forward to this move, I still can’t escape feeling tiny against a huge backdrop, and feeling like maybe I don’t know what I got myself into.
I keep reminding myself though, that I felt something similar my first day of college. A mere five years ago, I was feeling small and meek and nervous about a huge transition in my life. But I made it through, with flying colors. I managed and made it work and got past those feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. I made friends, I excelled and felt happy and learned so much. I just need to keep reminding myself that now, I’m not only older and wiser, but I have my best friend here by my side. Austin may not feel as nervous as I do, but that’s why I love him, because he is different than me. I know that he’ll comfort me when I need it, and I’ll do the same for him, and we will both treasure this new experience together.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011. 10:00 a.m. MDT. Flying somewhere over the mountain ranges of Colorado. We are due to land at LAX at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time and our pilot tells us we will be arriving early due to the gorgeous weather on this coast.
Even though this is just a short visit, it’s incredible that we are on this plane right now. All morning, I’ve been reminding myself that after all these months of planning and looking forward to this trip, it’s actually here. It’s exciting and full of angst, as we don’t know what to expect. What we experience this week will shape our lives on the West Coast and help point us down the right paths.
On our earlier connector flight into Chicago, the woman sitting with us in our three-person row was very friendly and interested in why we were heading to Los Angeles. After mentioning that she has a few friends who have been living out there for around 10 years, working in the film industry, she kindly took our contact information to give to her friends, in the hopes that we could soon connect. After this encounter, I’m reminded of a line in “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, one that I cherish and frequently recite in my head: When you want something, all the the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.