Every August that rolls around, I remind myself to be nostalgic about the year I moved to Los Angeles. Every year I can hardly muster it.
I had graduated college by the skin of my teeth just a few months earlier, and on the day we unloaded my brother’s diesel truck into that first apartment on Hollywood Boulevard, our country was just weeks away from changing forever. It’s hot in LA this time of year, I barely knew my roommate (or anyone else), and I had just enough money to make it about two months in the Big City before I’d run into a Big Problem.
The thing is, I don’t feel sentimental about that time. It became the most important year of my life, but it was nearly unbearable. I spent most of those early days in a blind fog of depression and heartbreak, then after 9/11 there was fear and homesickness. So even though I want to feel wistful for those days when the world was my oyster, a shadow crosses my face when it’s mentioned.
I do like to mark the time. It’s been fourteen years since I moved from Oklahoma to California, and it’s still the biggest thing that has ever happened to me. Without that decision, and the follow-through, my life would probably look very different.
Last night driving home from the VMAs, an Indigo Girls song filled the car. This particular tune has, at various stages of adulthood, made me scream, weep, laugh, and fall silent in gratitude. I sang along, my voice stumbling over some of the words that used to be etched into my soul. I’m old enough now for that whole range of emotions to be just a story.
Hey, 2001? I think about you sometimes. I know you’re back there. I hated walking through you, but it was necessary for every other good thing that awaited. I’d do it all again.
photo of the LA skyline by Kayla Johnson