The Land I Loved

The day I left was the saddest day of my life as an adult. The funny part is? I didn’t have anything to really hold me there. In other words, it’s not like I was leaving anything behind per say, only the dreams of my future.

It didn’t hit me as we were placing all of our belongings out onto the curb. My things that I had worked so hard for just out there exposed and left behind. It didn’t hit me as we pulled away and watched as the neighborhood I had called my home for the last year fade away from view. Everything that had become familiar to me that year was slowly fading and with each second that ticked by it was all becoming just a part of my past.

The silence during the first half hour of our car ride was needed because the lump in my throat wouldn’t have allowed for otherwise. It was once my turn signal indicated our arrival onto the interstate, and that moment of me looking into the rear view mirror, that a warm sadness washed over me. California had won. A true and real feeling of failure is what ran through my veins. It wouldn’t be for weeks that I would get to feeling like “me”again and then even still, it was a hurt “me”, a healing “me”.

My eyes welled up, the tears hot and intrusive. I could no longer hide my hurt once they overflowed and ran from the hiding spot behind my sunglasses and down my cheeks. I didn’t even bother to wipe the tears. What for? The pain was real and there was no sense in hiding it. Instead I chose to live through the emotion, actually feel what it was I was going through. I had fallen in love and for me this death was worth the mourning.

I’m sure many reading this will think I’m being dramatic. Only those who have taken risks and failed will understand where I’m coming from and really, those are the people I’m talking to. Only you are the ones who can relate. If you’ve never been through something similar, if you’ve never failed before and were left with nothing more than a a hole in your heart, read this and realize, your day is coming. That is for sure. It’s best you read up so you’re not blindsided as I was.

As a kid I had always dreamed of living in the rural parts of California. I had seen so many pictures and documentaries, the lay of the land in northern California was like a dream. The first computer I ever got that could actually surf the internet, I spent time looking up and researching places around the U.S that had always interested me. Cali was definitely my number one. I didn’t want to head there to be rich and famous. Fuck that. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. I wanted to live in California because it was something that had called to me as a child. Those beautiful mountains. The sky which seemed to always look so candy colored. The way the leaves turned to those amazing autumn tones in the fall with bright yellows, oranges, and reds. It was no surprise to anyone who knew me that the second I had cash saved up, off I was. I drove out to the West Coast without a moment’s hesitation. The people in my life dishonestly supporting me didn’t deter me. It was my dream, not theirs, that I was hunting for.

I had been purposely positive throughout the three days it took to drive there. I thought about how quick I would find a job. I thought about how awesome it would be to live in the new apartment, in my new neighborhood, with my new neighbors. I imagined all the cool places I’d finally get to see. Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, Hollywood Blvd, the Sunset Strip. If there were any doubts at any point in time, I crushed them with thoughts of positivity. There would be no Negative Nancies in my head bringing me down. No sir. I was (still am) a firm believer in the Law of Attraction so for me, negative thoughts weren’t even an option. It wasn’t until a year later that I looked back and realized, maybe the negative thoughts that would slip into my mind here and there was just life trying to prepare me for what would later be a shocking reality. But like Karma I find Hindsight to be a bitch.

My theory on Los Angeles’ smog problem is that it isn’t pollution, per say, that is floating above everyone’s head. It is my belief that the layer of smog that always lingers are the souls of the innocent who venture out to L.A and never return to be the same again. I mean hell, they don’t call it the City of Angels for no reason. I imagine it being like a trap box for the innocent. The interior of this box looks so appealing. It’s dressed up in opportunities and gold. Shiny things hang in its interior, attracting you like a fly to a light bulb. You get there one way, with a pure and maybe even naive way of being. Before long, the doors to this box snap shut and you are trapped inside, doing things out there to survive that you never thought you’d  have to do.

Yea, as a child I dreamed of going to Northern Cali but the opportunity arose for me in L.A. I figured that I could get myself started in the city. It would be my first foot through the door and then once I saved up a bit I would migrate up north.

I never even made it to saving up.

The California life is expensive. The cost of living was ridiculously high and real jobs were scarce. Just by looking around, the amount of homeless people or those collecting cans and plastic could be proof of what I’m telling you. My story during this time could have gone many different ways. It could have gone better. It could have gone way worse. It’s kinda funny because now thinking about it, they way I lived in L.A was so carefree, it was almost as though I was tempting danger to come dance with me. The streets of Los Angeles, the devil’s playground, and I was out and about living as if I were still out on the Island of Sanibel. I spoke to strangers. I would go out and try to explore my surroundings and many times, during this exploration, I would get lost and wind up on a block a didn’t belong. The drinking was out of control and there were more than a handful of times that in a moment of sheer blackout, would take my car and attempt to drive home. I always made it of course, but that is only because I have the best guardian angel out there protecting me.

There were so many mistakes I made when arriving to Cali. There were also many obstacles that also got in the way, obstacles that prolonged the feeling of settling down. I don’t think that in the year that I lived there did I feel at all settled.  Jobs weren’t working out. Food was scarce. Bills were piling up. The roller coaster of emotions and the stress were taking a toll on me. Secretly I would cry myself to sleep on almost every night. It would have been one thing if it would have just been myself that I needed to worry about. The fact that my sister decided to come along on my little adventure was what hurt me the most. Not because she came along with me but because she was suffering. This was my dream that I was trying to live out and now that it was going horribly bad she was suffering. To look at her face filled with so much anxiety and sadness really broke my heart to pieces and so the day I was confronted with the opportunity to return home, her face was the one I saw. In my mind, I saw her looking at me with the eyes full of hope of going back home, and that’s what made me break.

The decision was literally made from one day to the next and to be honest it wasn’t too hard of a decision to make. We were already 3 months behind on our rent. We had no food except for a bag of rice and a couple cans of tuna. By this time anytime we grocery shopped it was mainly baby food and soup cups that we ended up getting and that was to be split between my sister and I, along with my dog and her cat. Crazy right?

It had just been a few days before our planned departure that I had received an e-mail from our landlord stating that if we didn’t have the three months of rent we owed him within 48 hours, he would be there with police escort to evict us. Instead of leaving as planned, our trip back home was to be expedited. We gave our neighbor’s some of our things. Actually, we were trying to sell our stuff to them but after realizing that they were in no greater shape than we were, we freely gave things away. We then packed the car with whatever we could bring, but my small two door sports car couldn’t hold much, so we just left mostly everything behind. Like I mentioned earlier, the amount of people that are homeless or who rummage the garbage for food or things to help them get by is astronomical in L.A. So instead of leaving much of our stuff inside the apartment when we left, we decided to set what we could carry out on the curb for people to take. I mean for us it was like, “Well we can’t take it with us, so let’s leave it for those who will truly need it.” It was 6 am in the morning when we finished, the sun was just beginning to wake up. Our plan was to get out of there before our landlord showed up with his police escort. To be behind on a month’s rent is bad enough, but to owe three months is ridiculous. The fact that he hadn’t thrown us out sooner was a shock to me and a testament to how kind he was, for he was a really nice landlord, and there was no way my sister and I could face him.

As we got into my car, I noticed that there was already a family going through what was just a few seconds ago our belongings. It was truly a bittersweet moment that to even think about it now tugs at my heart.

I lost a lot on this adventure of mine to California. Not just my physical belongings but I also left behind a sliver of my dignity, piece of my heart, as well as a chuck of my soul. Yet, with my losing or leaving behind a few things I had also gained much more than that. I took with me my experiences of meeting new people, good and bad. I have taken and stored away beautiful memories and also some scary ones. Everything that I have obtained through my journey to and from California has served a wonderful purpose and have also gifted me with amazing stories for me to share. Who knows if I’ll ever go back and attempt at living there again but at least now I know somewhat of what I should be expecting.

There was a post I previously made about how I’ve only truly been in love twice. I’ll go ahead and correct myself by saying that it was three times. California. She is beautiful. She is enticing. She was a ruthless love.

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Art Work Credit: Jet Victory Follow on IG and FB

Love and Instant Gratification

In an age where technology has made everything so readily available one must wonder are we conditioning ourselves to believe that anything and everything is easily obtainable? Before, society used to have to work hard in order to achieve anything that was remotely satisfying. Your kid needed to do a 10 page research paper, the assignment was given weeks in advance for teachers knew that it would take time to gather such information. Kids would have to go and spend free time at the library or maybe even have to go so far as to visit a few museums in order to get the information needed to write a proper paper. If you had a dream of becoming a model, you knew there was serious work to be done. There were portfolios to be put together. You’d have to truly grind and figure out ways to make appointments with agents or show up for auditions. The ability to pose for a picture, edit it with a few different filters, and with one click post it on your Instagram (today’s portfolio) for the whole world to see, that was almost unfathomable. There are many who have gained, what I’ve termed Insta-Success, in dream careers that for them was once an almost impossibility yet today they are rolling in their passion. These are all great examples of how technology has helped humanity exceed and advance in many aspects of their lives such as knowledge, success, exposure.. But what about the downs of such advancement? There is always a negative to counter a positive. Life is about balance and I’m here to speak on whether or not the negatives balance or outweigh those positives.

One of our most important purposes here in life is love. I truly believe that love is something that not only every single individual on this planet strives to feel in one way or another, but it is also what makes the world go round. Not just the love of money, or success, the love to travel, or the love of food, or a hobby, but most importantly the love of an individual outside of yourself. To obtain true love whether it lasts forever or not is something that we all try to experience at one point or another. Some may have loved once, and got burned in doing so. Maybe those individuals have given up on feeling that emotion, but the point there is that they have experienced it. Others  may be looking for love and a percentage of those will find it while others will spend their entire lives in search of it. So how does the topic of “Love” come into play with “Insta-Sucess”? Take my friend Janet for instance. Janet falls under the percentage of those who are on the constant hunt for love. She’s got a profile on every single internet site or dating app that is out there. Whether it’s free or she pays a monthly fee, that girl’s heart is on everyone of them waiting to be captured. I know many people who are reading this may have or have had a profile up or two. I’ll be honest and say I’ve had one or two up and took them down for the simple reason that it just didn’t work for me. There is nothing wrong with having a dating profile. In fact, for many it is a godsend and truly their only way of being able to find love. Whether they’re to shy to go out and mingle, while there are others that are maybe too busy. Some prefer to have an array of choices at one time to date versus having to go out and pick up a date here and there. There is no wrong when it comes to having a dating profile, unless of course you’re looking for that Insta-Gratification from your Insta-Meet like my friend Janet.

Janet is trooper. She has a date pretty much every night of the week. Sometimes they are with the same guys. Most times her dates are with someone new and different. The problem doesn’t lie in the fact that she’s got numerous dates under her belt. If fact, before I would say “Good for YOU!” for I believe that in order to find out what you really want in your ideal mate you must first find out what you DON’T want. Her issue lies, and this is where most people’s issues lie in the online dating scene, is with the belief that with a few dates you either got it or you don’t. God forbid there be a flaw or a not so ideal quality in a person (because we’re all so perfect, ya know) it’s DELETE and onto the next one. No if, ands, or buts… You’re OUT. Many of you may be thinking “Well good for Janet!! She’s picky! and that’s important when it comes to not settling for less than what you want!” And I hear you. But what if that ease of “deleting” and moving onto the next one is exactly what’s keeping her from being in a happy relationship?

This is where today’s society and its entanglement with technology comes into play.For years now we have been able to be a  click away to learning and perfecting almost every aspect of our life. From typing up the perfect resume, or editing your pictures to look like a Hollywood starlit, to ordering groceries online while also paying your parking ticket at the same time. Everything is instant. Everything SEEMS perfect. We no longer have to work hard for anything. We’ve become a society who’s number one focus is physical appearance and instant gratification.  People are no longer patient enough to work hard for something. Actually it’s now the complete opposite.It’s as though in today’s world, if you’re working hard for something then it’s not worth to pursue so it’s time to move on and when it comes to love, I often hear (not just from Janet but many others her age and younger) if it’s meant to be, it’ll just work. The pursuit of “Perfection” has become such a norm in life that we have forgotten that we are human and we each have flaws or certain issues within us that make us far from perfect. Yet those very same issues or flaws are the very things that set us apart and make us unique from the next person. To be able to look past that, not only accepting it, but to the point where you cherish those flaws, that’s where true love for someone else lingers.

Janet, as well as many others out there, finding out that (insert name here) isn’t perfect, or doesn’t have all the qualities she looks for in her ideal mate, that instant gratification or her idea of perfection she’s in search for, that Insta-Love, is exactly what’s getting in her way.  The belief that you can meet someone and just love them immediately and them love you unconditionally without having to put in any work is absolutely absurd. One disagreement, one fight, one of anything negative, and good-bye. You are dismissed and onto the next one. Yes, there are those cases in which you will find what they call “love at first sight” but still to MAINTAIN that emotion for someone, it takes work. It’s not easy to maintain a relationship of any sort. There is time and effort that’s to be put in, and that is exactly what life today is lacking… Time and Effort.

I share this with you because everyone is deserving of love. When you’re out there looking for it, or it just so happens to find you, don’t get into your own way simply because you’ve been conditioned to believing in the hype around you. Listen to your heart and intuition. Understand, no one walks around wrapped in vintage filters and cropped out problems. We are all imperfect and that’s what makes us each so perfect.

049-2 Photo Credit: Natal Galvan Location: Santa Monica, CA