The thing I miss most about Los Angeles is my first year here.
There’s something about that first year, that beginning that is so whimsical no matter what age you are. For me, I was twenty-five and I had finally mustered up the courage to do something that terrified me.
At the time I thought it was leaving home. Migrating out of arms reach from parental units whom I’d already estranged myself from a year earlier. Even though I didn’t talk to my family, I still needed to be close to the familiar parts of my past that I had become so dependent upon. The idea of trying to assimilate, and make a name for myself in a new place without anyone to fall back on was terrifying. I had already made a trek out to Vegas five years earlier only to be denied lodging by the only relatives I knew in the area on my first night there alone. I was twenty, with little work experience and no degree, and really no business being in Las Vegas in the first place. I had an opportunity at the time to make a move further west to Los Angeles, but feared the city of tinsel-town would only be harsher on me and I couldn’t bear the rejection. Instead I returned to Philadelphia in hopes of rekindling the relationship that kept me there in the first place.
But that’s the thing: I’d actually already had lived on my own. I live two full months in Sin City with little support from my parents and friends. I only had left because deep down I had no interest in being a poker dealer at a casino or a life guard at a hotel. But I couldn’t go to Los Angeles because the thing I was more afraid of was failure. I couldn’t bare the idea of striking out at something I loved. It was bad enough my relationship was on the rocks.
That first is so exhilarating. Funny enough, my first gig here was as a poker dealer for private parties. I job I thought I had done fairly well but never got called in again to do. I slept on couches and drove a car that had no air conditioning. I got parking tickets, and moving violations and almost towed twice. I incidentally pushed Kate Beckinsale out of my way at her own movie premiere and had purchased a tuxedo to attempt to infiltrate the Oscars. I drove all around town. Worked part-time at a robot store and for one week as a promotor for debt collections. I looked forward to free improv workshops on the weekends and acted in awful student films. Slept in my car some nights. I met all sorts of people. And got high and ate bread-bites as I tried to focus on how to create momentum in a career I already felt was starting much too late.
I finished that year with a desk job that paid $42,000 a year and a complete digression from what I’d came to do. A digression that would slow me down by three years. But I still remember that first year fondly. A year that began in November on Black Friday with me sitting in a near empty theater showing “The Muppets” and tried to calm my nerves, worried that my car with all the belongings I had to my name would be towed by the time the movie ended, my eyes half focused on the puppets on the screen and half focused on the small group of friends enjoying themselves a few rows in front of me. They seemed to have what I was longing for: belonging.