Two and a half months ago, I drove from New York to Los Angeles. I live here now.
In a way, I kind of feel like a foster dog looking for my forever home. The longest I have lived anywhere since leaving Wisconsin after college has been three years. I did that much time at my first apartment in East Palo Alto, another three in San Jose, sixteen months in Brooklyn and now I am here. But the idea that I could spend the rest of my life here in Los Angeles feels so impossible that it barely tracks in my brain.
I realized this when, after having the fiftieth "How are you adjusting to Los Angeles?" conversation with friends and strangers to their universal surprise at my "Extremely well, apparently!" answer, it occurred to me that my lack of culture shock is in itself pretty weird.
Maybe it was for this reason that since getting to LA I have started having panic attacks while out in public. The first time it happened, I was at a concert waiting for the opening band to start their set when I was yelled at by a member of the venue staff and my body decided it could no longer handle being in that room and had to leave immediately. I had to keep repeating to myself "Just get home. Just get home." to calm myself enough to drive even and I still busted my tail light leaving a parking garage. This is not something that had ever occurred to me before.
By itself the panic attacks are troublesome. but when combined with my general facade of being extremely adjusted to my new surroundings I started to realize that even if my conscious mind thought I was fine, my body was clearly telling me differently.
Years of uprooting myself have also left me without any roots on which I can rely. I grew up an only child, so I have plenty of experience being alone, but having all of your friends only be accessible via the internet only amplifies the loneliness in times when you need strength. Every time I started to make in-roads with friends who were local, I have moved away turning them into more internet friends.
So I have to change. I have to try. Not just because each move has been progressively harder and I am tired, but living in a constant state of uncertainty is taking its toll on me, and not believing I can trust anything being the same in the future is the worst part of that.
And I know I can do it. I know because I have been able to push myself to keep moving for all this time, the task of standing still is going to be different but no less challenging. Los Angeles feels like as good a place as any, and though I miss New York terribly I know that will subside with time.
Soon I am going to clean out my storage locker in San Jose and tie up all the loose ends. Then I am going to try every restaurant and coffee shop and bar and comedy club and concert venue in the greater Los Angeles area until I have favorites.
I am going to build myself a life here because I choose to, because I am ready. So if you need me, you can find me in Los Angeles. I live here.