I got distracted by life again, hence here you have another long overdue blog post. I swear I’ll be more on top of it. It’s really hard to be adventurous and be up to date on your blog..
As I was driving from San Diego to Los Angeles it finally started to hit me that I wasn’t going back to Georgia. When I pulled into the South Bay to meet friend of friend (henceforth known as Taylor), I was definitely feeling the weight of what was happening. I pulled up to a regular house, in a foreign neighborhood to be with the only person I even remotely knew, and I didn’t even know her. Taylor seemed edgy, and alternative, and way cooler than me. She has traveled the world and spent the last 4 years living in Hawaii. She has thick, long blonde hair, and a natural cool and easy going persona.
Taylor and I went to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few items her mom needed that night for dinner. Thankfully, her family planned to have dinner and people over the night I was coming into town, and I knew the one person I knew from UGA would be there, Casey Courter – this was the one anchor of comfort I had to hold on to. I wish I could describe the feeling that I had when we were browsing through Trader Joe’s. Taylor knew everyone she passed, as she does, and I was following along like one of those robotic puppies. I was pretending and conversing, picking up vegetables and ice cream, but inwardly I was cringing. I was so uncomfortable, so out of place, so far from home, so alienated, and so dreading going to her family’s house to feel even more like an alien. I know this is a dramatic entrance, but bear with me, I can be a real introvert sometimes.
With so many fears and discomforts hanging over my head, we talked to Taylor’s last friend at Trader Joe’s (really she talked and I stood there like a smiling statue) and headed to her family’s house. Stepping out of the car even felt taxing. If you are an introvert (I’m not really), or have introverted moments where you just need to be inside your cave, with yourself, and in my case holding tight to my bible, then you’ll understand this moment. I had a night full of forced conversation ahead of me, and no home to retreat to at the end of it – it felt like I was facing an abyss, or a really long swim with no shore in sight. When, and how would I ever feel at home here…
The night couldn’t have been better. I couldn’t have spent my first night in LA with better people. Taylor’s family are some of the best, most welcoming people I’ve ever met. They asked me questions about myself, why I was here, what Georgia was like, commented on how brave I was, how cute I was, and welcomed me into their family. We had wine, sat out in their garden under twinkling lights and talked and laughed and learned about each other. Her family was just as great as she had been. I seriously couldn’t have asked for anything more comforting in those first few hours than to have someone’s family bring me in with open arms. It never felt like I was a guest in their house, it was like “Hi, welcome to California, you’re with us now”. The Lord dropped me into this fabulous, gracious, Jesus loving, kind, together, family that lived on the other side of the world from me a week before.
After we left Taylor’s parents house around 10PM, I was then mentally preparing to start work the day after I arrived. Taylor was house sitting that night, and doesn’t actually have an apartment of her own yet (it was in the plan for us to find one together), and it was immediately clear to me that the one thing I needed and couldn’t compromise on was having my own space, a place to call home. One night spent in the panic of living out of my suitcase and my car, and not having the luxury of being able to let it all out and cry in my room and spend time with Jesus in my room, was enough. The next morning when I woke up I let Taylor know that I was planning on finding a room to rent because I needed some sort of stability, some place to feel familiarity.
In LA the housing market is like a brawl. It’s competitive and really hard to find a good place to rent. However, there are a lot of people who know this, who don’t want to leave their apartment that they fought to get, who just replace their leaving roommates with random renters from Craigslist. I knew I could find something. At that point, I didn’t care if I was living with a 45 year old man, I just needed my own room.
Thankfully, randomly, of-coursely, Taylor’s childhood friend owns a house and had an open room that I moved into. I went to work that day not knowing where I would be laying my head down that night, and ended the night cuddled up on my very own air mattress in a rented room, 3 miles from the beach, and 2 miles from my office. I was home.
The first night I was freezing in my empty room. I was under the impression that California hot was equivalent to Georgia hot (guess what, it’s not.) and didn’t think I would need my down comforter, so I left it in Tennessee with my momma. But I was overjoyed at the fact that I knew where I would be for the next few weeks.
The next day starting work was the most welcomed, normal thing. Anything normal, I was clawing for.
I tried to get myself into a routine really quickly. Find what work out classes I like, what time I’m going to go. I was absolutely dependent on waking up every morning with enough time to have quiet time, to read my bible. It was a luxury that my commute was 9 minutes and I didn’t have to be a work at a certain time, so I found peace in the morning to deal with all the emotions I would feel during the day. I came home at night to people I didn’t know, who I felt like didn’t care to know me, who I saw weren’t like me. I went to work and started doing well at my job, but still felt foreign and alienated from the people I was surrounded by.
Some days I could be marveled at the adventure I was living, astounded at myself, like holy crap I actually just moved to LA. Some days I would be drowning in isolation, thinking about everything that it felt like I had thrown away, like my beautiful friends, the comfort of my job and working with people that I could call friends, being close to my family, and the comfort of coming home to my best friend every night, having a glass of wine and talking about life. This period is the first time in my life when I can say I understand those people who try really, really hard to make people like them. I wanted everyone to like me. I didn’t want to say anything too crass, to rub someone the wrong way. I didn’t want to make a joke in case people didn’t think it was funny. I didn’t want to say too much, but I also didn’t want people to think I was shy and boring. I didn’t want them to think I was uptight, but I didn’t want them to think that I thought things that I think are wrong, were right. It was a hard line to toe.
It’s such a bizarre feeling to be known by no one. I grew up in a town where everybody knows everybody. I went to school with the same people from age 4-18. I went to college, and had people there with me who had known me always, who knew me well. A few people, enough to bring me comfort while I went off on my own and made friends too. I moved to Atlanta, with all of my friends from college; just moving from comfort to comfort. To have no one know that you are sarcastic, no one knows my sense of humor, no one knows when I’m kidding, no one knows my inside jokes, no one knows if I’m making that weird face on purpose or if that’s just how I look, no one knows how much I like chocolate, or rap. That was the loneliest thing, that no one knew me in any capacity. It’s ground zero with every person I know. It truly is like starting over again from scratch. How do you rebuild yourself? I started thinking what parts of me do I want to leave out, and what parts of me do I keep the same. Then I realized that I want to keep everything the same, that I really like who I am, and that I really know who I am. That moment of revelation that I am who I want to be, was comforting too. I’m growing a lot here, but the foundation of me that I brought here is a good one that I want to build on, not replace.
The past two months have been emotional, hard, marvelous, good, awing. I’ve grown so much in just two months. I have more confidence in who I am, and what I know than I ever have before. I have more stability in Christ, and I am more rooted in Him here in a place that doesn’t know Him, than I was two months ago surrounded by people who do. I know how blessed I was to meet Taylor and her family, for her to be the one person I knew. To know one person here who has a Christian community in such a dry place has been the best thing I could have asked for.
My days are consistently a lot more joyful and a lot easier. I had days where I was so angry at the Lord, for letting that life I wanted, that culture that I loved, with people that I loved, all just be taken away from me. He made me die to everything I wanted. He stripped me of what I imagined for myself. What I dreamed my life would be was still very alive in my heart, but I had to completely let what I dreamed up go, and I was angry about that.
Today I’m not angry about it. If I’m honest with myself, and with how I felt, I knew I was never going to be satisfied if I just settled in Georgia with a husband and popped out some kids in a few years. My heart was thirsting for something more, to see something more, to do something outside of my comfort zone. I was continuously questioning myself in Georgia, will this life be enough, and it wasn’t going to be. God knew that because He knows me. He knows what I need. I needed to go and be on my own, and see something new, and be uncomfortable and be challenged. I needed my confidence restored. I needed to see a different way of thinking and a different way of life. I needed freedom and separation from the relationship that followed me around like a plague. I needed all of this before I could ever settle down into the role of wife and mother that I so desired, and didn’t want to be behind my friends on. I was no where near ready for that, but I was going to settle and make myself ready for that. Can you imagine what the consequences would’ve been 20 years from now, if I had settled with a life that my heart didn’t agree with. I ignored that internal feeling that I needed to get out, and thankfully, God pushed me out.