After leaving my house, I knew I needed a place to crash for a few days so I could sort through stuff that I had frantically thrown in my car. My friend Valerie offered her 1 bedroom apartment and said she’d stay with her boyfriend so I had the place to myself. She has a super cute apartment about 1 block from the ocean in Long Beach. When I arrived Wednesday evening, I had to unload a lot of stuff from my car. After many trips to and from my car, I finally sat down at her kitchen table. Her apartment was similar to the apartments I had lived in when I first moved to Los Angeles when I was 23. They’re all pretty old, have similar old doors and cabinets, and no air conditioning. I had cried (sobbed really) the entire way to Valerie’s apartment. After unloading the car, I finally ate for the day, a frozen meal I grabbed from my freezer on the way out of my house. Living alone means I eat my fair share of frozen dinners. Deafening silence engulfed every inch of the apartment and surrounded me.
I sat there eating in silence, crying. A feeling come over me that felt like I just slid back in life. I spent 15 years building a life; found and married my husband, bought and sold a condo, bought a house, and built a great career. Now it was all gone. I was jobless, homeless, and had no husband. I was back in an apartment similar to one I had 13 years ago, listening to the neighbors fight through the wall. Now I understood why so many friends were shocked when they found out what I was doing, what I was giving up. Fear sweep over me and I wondered what the heck I was doing.
Over the next few days, I sorted and organized my stuff. I bought a GoPro for my travels, and installed a roof top cargo box on my car. I went for a run on the beach, a path I used to run when I lived in Long Beach. I met up with friends to say more goodbyes. I still struggled to sleep. It’s maddening when you can’t sleep, even though you’re very tired.
I planned on leaving on Sunday so I didn’t overstay my welcome at Valerie’s apartment. A friend was having a party on Saturday so I decided to go. On the hour-long Uber ride there, I chatted with the driver and he was about to embark on a 3 week road trip with his girlfriend across the US. I told him about my plans and how I just sold my house and quit my job. My friend Trisha had suggested that I make business cards with my blog, Vimeo, and Instagram information for people I meet along the way. I had literally just picked up the cards so as I left the Uber, I handed him a card. He thanked me and started following me on Vimeo the next day (that was super exciting!). He helped me grab some drinks from the trunk and said “You’re a little crazy. But it’s a good kind of crazy.” That made me smile. I am a little crazy.
At the party, I was able to see several friends one last time. We ended up going to a local bar afterwards and heard some live music. Once back at my friend’s house, I chatted with a couple of friends and fell asleep on the couch around 3am. It was my last night in LA and I didn’t want it to end. Finally around 4am, I grabbed an Uber back to Valerie’s apartment.
At 10am, I met two friends (Karyn and Mo) for breakfast. Knowing I was leaving that day and recently having had my heart broken (that’s a different story), I cried through most of breakfast (thankfully most people don’t go to brunch at 10am). Embarrassing you say? Yes, very much so. I remember the days in high school and college where I never cried in front of people, ever. My friends used to think I was a little cold because I didn’t really cry. Well, apparently my tear ducts are making up for lost time because I’ve cried more in the last 2 years than ever before. I was feeling so much loss, all at once, that I simply couldn’t handle it. Losing the house felt like losing my husband all over again. Maybe that’s why he was able to move on so quickly and I haven’t? I didn’t realize how much of my life with him was still tied to living in that house. My friends were very patient and understanding. They talked me through everything and helped me feel a little less alone. They asked where I was going that night and I had no clue. I couldn’t decide between the coast, up to Mammoth, or just go through the middle of California. After talking it out with them, I decided to head through the middle so I could get to Oregon and start exploring. I’ve seen a lot of California and had to be in Denver by August 31st so I wanted to spend most of my time in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.
After breakfast, I went back to Valerie’s apartment and started getting my bags ready to be loaded up. Two friends (Debbie and Robin) stopped by to grab the spare key to my storage unit and a little safe with things like my birth certificate. Did I continue to cry? Yes.
Around 3:30pm, I was ready to head out but first had to stop at my storage unit to drop off a few more items and go to Best Buy to buy a keyboard for my iPad mini since the laptop I wanted wasn’t available anywhere. My friend, Trisha, met me at Best Buy with her kids so I could say goodbye. We didn’t get a chance to say goodbye earlier because of timing. I’m glad I was able to have a face to face goodbye with her and she encouraged me that things would get better. Around 4:30pm, I was ready to head out from Best Buy and hit the road. Trisha asked me where I was going first and I said “Probably Merced”. I didn’t have a hotel booked so I figured I’d see how far I made it.
As I drove through Los Angeles, getting stuck in some traffic, I felt a sense of loss. Los Angeles is where I had just spent most of my adult life and it had become my home. I moved about every 4 years growing up, living in different cities in Missouri and Colorado, and each move was hard. The hardest move was when my parents were separated and my sister, mom, and I were living in my step grandmother’s house while she was touring Europe for the summer. My dad showed up in the evening about a week before school was supposed to start with a loaded Uhaul filled with all of our stuff from storage. My parents said they were getting back together and I needed to pack my suitcase because we were moving back to Missouri (we were currently living in Canon City, CO). I didn’t get to say goodbye to my friends and we were gone by the morning. This was very dramatic for my 13-year-old self because I’m someone who needs closure. I need to say goodbye and I need to stay in touch with people. I don’t like losing people.
With this move, I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to my house, and having no clue where I would spend the next few months felt overwhelming. I drove over the mountains and into farmland as the sun set and realized it was June 24th, the one-year anniversary of when my divorce had been finalized. All I could think was “This has to get better, right?”