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Let's talk about ... Los Angeles

Life doesn’t award us opportunities to live out simultaneous realities. We can’t know what would have happened if we went to a different college, took that other job, or even just if we had something else for breakfast this morning. Life is essentially summed up with us trying to make the next best choice. However, occasionally, I think we get glimpses into “what could have been.” One of my biggest “could have beens” isn’t a person, it’s a place called Los Angeles. Ever heard of it?


I lived in LA for four years while I attended college. Although it wasn’t a far distance from my hometown, I felt like I was a world away. In a lot of ways, I was. I was immediately drawn to the hustle of a big city and began adopting what I thought a city girl persona was. I weirdly loved the reflection time I got from bumper-to-bumper traffic because it meant I was “in it.” Whether Los Angeles cared or not, I was there.


Somewhere around the end of year three, I felt so drawn to somewhere else. The weekend before senior year started, I made the decision that as soon as I graduated, I was going to move to another state. It’s the state where I still live, and the best place for me. But, when I made this choice to move, something subconsciously switched in me. I started to disassociate with Los Angeles and the people who came with it. Most of my college friends were staying in Los Angeles come May, but part of me couldn’t get out of there fast enough. There was so much waiting for me in my new home. All it had was potential. And, by this point, Los Angeles and its people had disappointed me a time or two.


I spent so much time my senior year getting the next chapter set up, that I missed a lot of what was happening right under my nose. All these years later, I realized I was getting a lesson in being present. I am someone who likes to be prepared, so I did need to find a place to live and start building community in my new home, but a lot was happening in my current home that I unknowingly (or maybe, knowingly) ignored. I wish I had done a better job appreciating Los Angeles in real-time.


I didn’t do that. Instead, I got in my car and headed east from the coast as soon as I had time to gas up my car after walking across the graduation stage. Los Angeles wasn’t going to be home anymore, so I had to get out. I really haven’t spent much time there since. But sometimes you do get to try again. I think Los Angeles and I are getting a second chance. And, no, this doesn’t mean I am moving back. We are redefining our relationship if you will. In Facebook terms, “it’s complicated,” but we’re working on it.


Coincidentally, I have a fair amount of business in Los Angeles, so it’s important that I visit every now and then. A few weeks ago, I was staying with a friend while checking in with clients. I had one full day of working out of her apartment to myself. At about 2:00 p.m., I realized I was doing it. I was living my “could have been.” I took a moment to reflect on how that made me feel. The Los Angeles sunshine feels so familiar on my face. Part of me felt like I was teleported to being 18 – 22 years old.


At that moment, I told Los Angeles “thank you.” It isn’t home anymore, but it was once. It was really cool to be standing in that sunshine as a 28-year-old showing Los Angeles who I had become. And it was also cool to realize that without Los Angeles, things probably wouldn’t have turned out this way.


Los Angeles made me gritty. I learned how to walk through its downtown streets with a level of confidence that the people up to no good left me alone. It taught me that I am most often not the smartest person in the room, but I solve a problem (usually to a correct answer) in a different way than everyone else. It taught me that if you don’t go after what you want, it will be waiting there for someone else to take. It taught me that everyone needs one professional outfit that makes them feel powerful. And so ironically, as one of the biggest, busiest cities in the world, it taught me how to be present.


I will never know what would have happened if I had still stayed “Los Angeles” me.  I do know, I am grateful for the years I spent as her, and I think she’d be proud. That’s all that matters for now.


Thank you, Los Angeles. You maybe never noticed I was there, and you probably don’t notice my absence. But you were once home and for that, you’ll always be special.


An affirmation to try: “Take in the moments and people around you. One day, they’ll be memories.

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