Tag Archives: I love LA

Bi-coastal-curious

artwork by: Nan Lawson

April 5, 2013

I’ve been back in Los Angeles for a few months now and it’s becoming clear to me that I’m going to need to fashion a more bi-coastal lifestyle so I can spend time in both of the cities I love. I met this wicked cool artist selling her illustrations in a booth at the Union Square Holiday Market who was raised in Orange County, lived in NYC for many years, and now lives in Portland. She travels throughout the year selling her work at some of the best arts & crafts fairs around the country and then returns home to Oregon. We bonded over being California gals who lived and loved NYC, but couldn’t stomach the daily grind anymore. Other cities better suit our more laid back constitution, desire for natural surroundings, and thankfully, afford us home studios where we can make art on a consistent basis.

Yes, this is the type of lifestyle I wish to create. Spending time in multiple locations mixing it up is essential for megawatt personal growth. Travel by its very nature, opens your eyes, keeps you on your toes, refreshes your perspective. Home base acts as a creative sanctuary. I can only be in one place at a time, but if I’m imaginative about it, I bet I can shoot for the best of both worlds. I’m certainly going to try.

I must say, I’m not especially interested in having a monogamous relationship – with NYC or LA. Serial monogamy still holds a certain appeal, however, as there are many other spectacular cities worthy of a longer gander during this particular incarnation of my soul. Perhaps I’m ready to explore a more “polyamor-metropolis” lifestyle.  This has not been my typical modus operandi, mind you, but apparently, NY has encouraged my mind to open even wider in regards to the flexible forms relationships can take, despite my almost constant battle with that concept over the years. Bottom line: it is natural to have love for more than one place, person, or thing at a time. The more open your heart is, the more space there is for many desires to flourish simultaneously, the more exploration one is wont to do.

My open mind also thinks it sounds like a fantastic idea to structure my life so that I can enjoy spending time with men from both coasts. They are so different and yet so complementary. I get a spectrum of desires met by both. Oh please, may I have one of each? Sounds good in theory, but seriously, it’s never really been my style and the older I get, the less inclined I am to extol the virtues of multi-tasking. Ideally, there’s a man out there somewhere who understands and appreciates the beautiful complexities of both NY and CA, and is open to building a bi-coastal existence together.

During the last of my Manhattan years, I think that’s what I was secretly wishing to find in a mate – a New York man who, shortly after falling in love with me, would realize his readiness for change and be up for giving the west coast a try. When I revealed this to my best friend one day, she said, “If you want to be with man who’s interested in living in CA, why don’t you find one who’s already there?!”

She had a point, a good one that made increasingly more sense as time wore on. As I ultimately discovered, it’s much more difficult to encounter a west coast man living in the east. They are not as apt to flock that direction. East coast men in the west, however? Surprisingly abundant! As a few “east gone west” men have confided, “once you get a taste of the left coast life, you rarely venture back again, except to visit.”

Bi-coastalism, while also good in theory, is not as easy as it sounds in practice. Many people try it for a while – winters + summers in California, spring + fall in NYC – until one place inevitably seems to win out. While six-hour flights aren’t too terribly long in the scheme of things, they do tend to take their toll with frequency.

I admit, I struggle with chronic “grass is greener syndrome”, wondering if I’ll ever be 100% happy with where I am in the present moment, but I know I’m not alone. When it comes down to it though, your dissatisfaction is really about you, not your whereabouts. When you move, you don’t leave all those things you’re disenchanted with behind, you take them with you. They are you. Certain circumstances and dynamics, habits and patterns may change when you uproot yourself, but they might not, so be forewarned. YOU are ultimately the common denominator in your restless quest for greener pastures.

The flip side of that coin is, the city you choose to leave may not change either and will in all likelihood, remain much the same place you left, if you decide to return. Many of the things I disliked about LA are still very much a part of LA. I just accept it all a little more readily now. Many of things I initially loved about NY, eventually drove me rather nuts and made me want to flee.

Some people like to stay in one place and nest, others prefer to roam and experiment. I’ve got a dash of both – one part homebody artist introvert, one part wander lusting traveler social butterfly. Who says I have to choose? I believe in having my cake and eating it too, since I never much understood that expression anyway. I appreciate the merits of dwelling in Los Angeles and the last few months have taught me that I’m gonna need to scratch that NY itch ‘cause it ain’t going away. Therefore, I hereby set the intention to visit NY at least 2 – 3 times a year, ideally mixing pleasure and business, in an attempt to satisfy my myriad desires and explore my budding bi-coastal-curiosity.

CA & NY

May 20, 2013

I booked a plane ticket back to NY a few weeks ago. I made arrangements for places to stay, scheduled lots of quality hang time with friends, made a list of all the art events I wanted to check out (particularly: Recalling 1993, Street and Punk at the Met, the architectural sculptures along Park Avenue, Orly Genger’s rope installation in Madison Square Park, just to name a few). I planned to spend Memorial Day weekend in Brooklyn, eating my way through Smorgasburg, staying at the Wythe Hotel, going to see the Shins concert in Williamsburg Park. I looked forward to capping off the trip with a few days on Fire Island as a guest at my friend’s summer share. I even came up with a story idea to write while I was in town, did a ton of research, booked reservations, and then… it didn’t feel right.

What?! Are you kidding me? After everything you’ve been posting about NYC these past few months? All the missing and pining and lamenting you’ve been doing! Now you aren’t gonna go?! Have you lost your mind, lady?

Let’s just say that, while many awesome plans did indeed fall into place that would’ve made for a fantastic reunion with NY, others did not. A couple of gigs that were supposed to make this a work trip as well, got postponed for the time being. Then there was an unfortunate hiccup with a guy I’d briefly dated and had been maintaining a long distance flirtation with since I left. I’d literally just finished arranging some stellar plans for our much discussed and long overdue rendezvous, when he informed me that he’d recently run into his ex-gf and they’d decided to give it another try. Doh! C’est la vie. Timing really is everything.

In the weeks leading up to this triumphant NY return, I kept saying to friends that I felt as if I needed to go back, in order to move forward. Many friends who’ve left NY have also made a similar boomerang, and thus, understood my inclination. They also shared that, when they did go back, they soon realized they didn’t belong there anymore. One said, “Get used to it. You think you’re beyond it, you’re enjoying a new life, and then that pang for NYC sneaks up on you unexpectedly, at random times, months, even years later. It never completely goes away.”

Nevertheless, I wanted to catch up in person with the friends I’d been missing so much. I desired some spring romance after months of anticipation. I ached to see how NY would feel again after putting some much needed distance between us. Was I right to leave or would I consider living there again? I thought the only way to know for sure was to go back and trigger some epiphanies. Maybe then I’d finally be able to embrace LA in a way that I’d not yet been able to, if I could just get this out of my system.

But as my departure date crept closer, I attracted answers, and my heart said: This isn’t the right time. I don’t need to go back so soon. I really miss my friends, but they ARE still a part of my life. We talk on the phone all the time. They’ll understand. They’ll come and visit too. Do what’s best for you right now.

So, to my surprise, I’m not ready to go back to NY yet. I don’t need to walk the streets and realize I don’t belong there anymore. I left. I know that already. I don’t need to go back to move forward, I just need to move forward. There are other places on the map that are stirring my wanderlust. I spent the past 5 years in NY. I should venture somewhere else! I want to experience California’s beauty again – take a road trip up the coast, through redwood forests and wine country, up to the Bay Area, visit my west coast friends. I’d love to return to my beloved Hawaii, or go travel somewhere I’ve never been – Bali, Italy, Spain, or ?!

New York will be there. My life in Los Angeles is achieving its own forward momentum and I’m in the midst of a bunch of projects that I’m really enjoying. I’ve only just begun to lay the groundwork and build anew. Stay the course. I need to trust the instincts that encouraged me to move on and pursue uncharted territory.

Reality check: I know I have a bad habit of staying stuck in the past and waiting to see if something might still be there, even when I really know better. I’ve held onto people and places I’ve loved way longer than necessary. I’ve given too much credence to my doubts and engaged in a ton of second-guessing. I’ve put myself through emotionally trying situations only to discover that, yes in fact, that was wrong for me, and damn it, I knew that already!

This is a real opportunity to move forward, full steam ahead. Choosing not to go back to NY means I’m making progress. I’ve officially turned a corner and this is a good sign. Sure, I’ve made the mistake of wasting precious time gazing far too long in the rear view mirror, but now I’m actively focusing on the present, and the future, without dragging myself through the proverbial mud first. Looks like I finally learned that lesson! I guess it just took awhile for my heart to catch up to what my head already knew.

We’re on the cusp of summer here and you know what? It’s high time I give up the struggle! I’m releasing this weird fear of being happy and comfortable in Los Angeles. I’m moving my bi-coastal-curiosity to the back burner. It might stay there permanently; I might opt to stir that pot when I’ve got a new body of work to tour with. Never say never. Right now, California and the Pacific Coast is calling my name and I’m eager to get re-acquainted, sans regrets.

i heart california

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Have you ever thought you needed to revisit the past in order to move forward? Did you ever desire something so whole-heartedly, only to suddenly experience a moment of clarity and completely change course? I’d like to hear your story, so please leave a comment below. If this post resonates with you, share with a friend, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!

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Artwork by: Nan Lawson. Check out her delightful store on etsy.com!

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Filed under Art, Culture, Dreams, Hollywood, Love, New York City, Travel, Writing

Back in “LA LA Land”

California Dreaming

I’ve always disliked that nickname for Los Angeles – “LA LA Land” – it implies this city is some sort of fantasyland where its inhabitants perpetually flit about with their heads in the clouds, in the relentless pursuit of stardom and success, jetsetting on flights of the imagination and building castles in the sky, while basking in the eternal sunshine of our spotless minds. Well, okay, perhaps there’s a little something to that assertion, on the surface, but that’s a topic I’ll tackle in a future post about what I consider to be the real Los Angeles.

Having spent the last 5 years living in a rough ‘n tumble concrete jungle and observing how Hollywood is perceived by the rest of the world, I can appreciate why folks might erroneously draw such conclusions. After all, it is particularly dreamy here in California – dynamite climate all year round; pretty people; clean streets; pioneering free spirits; health consciousness; cinema studios; silicon valleys; beaches, bays, forests, mountains; 500+ miles of beauty from head to toe! Can you really blame us for being so happy-go-lucky?

Disclaimer: I’m not particularly crazy about the abbreviation “LA” either, but I’m about to use it a whole lot because it does make for convenient short hand. Respectfully, this is Los Angeles, City of Angels! Otherwise known as: HOME.

hwdgratitude

Being back in Los Angeles this time around has been a literal breath of fresh air. The weather = absolute perfection = warm + sunny, blue skies + gentle breezes. So grateful not to be freezing my ass off back east right now! I love being back in my home, giving it some much needed TLC. I’m clearing out the cobwebs, re-discovering all the beautiful keepsakes I’ve collected over the years that I left behind in storage. I’m having fun doing a bit of re-decorating, making the house my own again. I’ve got so much more space it’s taken me a bit of time to get used to spreading my wings and inhabiting it fully. I had all the overgrown brush hacked away and am bringing my garden back to life – planting succulents, resurrecting the compost bin, sowing the seeds of my vegetable & herb garden, giving patio furniture a fresh coat of paint. I’m getting buff from all this diggin’ in the dirt. My skin already has a lovely sun kissed glow and it’s only March! Hummingbirds buzz through the yard daily, gracing me with good juju as they suck nectar from the birds of paradise. It’s so gorgeous and peaceful here, my little slice of heaven.

productivewinter

I am home again, in my comfort zone, but it’s fresh. It’s weird to be back in the city where I grew up and feel like we’re strangers. I don’t know if this or that is still open. There are all these new places I don’t know anything about. It’s a disconcerting feeling, especially since I pride myself on having my finger on the pulse and knowing exactly where to go. LA feels at once familiar and yet rather alien. But that’s exactly what I wanted. I always said if I ever returned to homebase #1, I’d want it to be my choice, on my own terms, and for it to feel brand spankin’ new again. Mission accomplished.

mulholland dr

How fortunate I am to be able to take a time out; to take stock, re-group, and contemplate what’s important to my soul again. I made a decision to put myself first this year and follow my bliss, take my passions off the back burner and place them squarely in front of me. What are my priorities? What do I really want to create in this space and in my life? What do I most want to do with my time and resources? LA affords me the ability to marinate in these questions for a spell and focus on the task of re-inventing myself for this next stage of the game.

I just enrolled in Marie Forleo’s B-School – a sassy, no nonsense online business and marketing class for women entrepreneurs – so I can really hit the ground running and get super pro-active about developing a new business plan + lifestyle that’s in alignment with my current interests. I’m ready to put into practice all these ephiphanies I’ve been having about my work, art, and life. I can already see how much NY got inside my veins and how that go-getter drive is manifesting now that I’m back.

Thrilled as I am about all the positive shifts taking place, one of my oldest, dearest friends called me tonight to ask, “Are you happy back in LA?” Apparently, my recent FaceBook statuses may indicate otherwise. Yes, of course, I’m happy. But her question did strike a nerve and I found myself trying to reconcile the conflicting complexities of my simultaneous desire to be both present in LA and back in NY.

feelings co-exist

I mean, it’s only been 7 weeks. It takes time to re-adjust. I just spent the last 5 years in NYC living a totally different existence. I didn’t even return home once in the last two years. I barely left Manhattan at all, for months at a time. NY got her hooks in good and when you’re entrenched, it regularly feels like you just can’t pull yourself away. Opportunities crop up lightning fast, so many irons are constantly in the fire at once, if you dare leave, you just might miss something. Or so I told myself.

I won’t lie. My head and heart are still very much in NYC. I miss walking the streets; the electricity in the air; my friends; my favorite spots to drink, dine, and daydream. Hell, I even miss the damn smells. I had a dream the other night that I was getting on an airplane, thinking, “I can’t believe I’m going back so soon!” Another dream a few nights later, had me navigating the maze of Manhattan, desperately trying to get home because I forgot to pay my rent, a whopping $2000/mo. When I finally walk through the door, I discover a tiny, windowless, empty room. I have no belongings because I’m too busy busting my ass at work to actually furnish it. NYC literally haunts me in my sleep.

I guess this transition would’ve been easier if I hated NYC. But I don’t. I still love her. I’m straddling the US, metaphorically speaking – one foot’s back in LA, the other’s still in NYC, and doubts about whether I made the right choice continue to linger.

I do still wonder if I should’ve given it more time. I started searching for apartments in Brooklyn before I left, thinking perhaps that charming, slightly quieter borough might be the answer to my chronic dissatisfaction. Searching NYC apartment listings is a super depressing exercise, especially when you’ve lived elsewhere and are able to draw comparisons to how much more bang for your buck you’d get anywhere else on the planet. That last ditch effort at apartment hunting truly tested my power to maintain a cheery outlook. I give myself credit for doing it fairly diligently there for a while, but day by day, I slowly lost faith in my amazingly fortunate real estate karma and ability to manifest yet another flexible miracle, rent-stabilized abode.

I’d already moved 3 times in the span of 5 years while living in Manhattan. I no longer wanted to live in someone else’s place with their ugly ass furniture while they were indefinitely out of town, and run the risk of being kicked out again once they decided their adventure elsewhere was over. Nor was I keen on living with 3 roommates, for which I’d still have the pleasure of paying at least $1000/mo., after living alone for the past 19 years. As a freelance artist, I don’t make 20 times the amount of rent that most NYC landlords insist upon to even consider your application, and the hooping jumping required to sign a lease is utterly absurd!

Brooklyn does indeed rock, and I very much wanted to join the community at 3rd Ward, and have the experience of living there too before I left NY for good, but when reflecting upon what I really envisioned for my life in the long run – spacious living, studio space, travel, warm weather, having a child – I just wasn’t convinced that Brooklyn was really the answer to my prayers either. When I began to think that relocating across the country would be easier/more appealing than moving across the river, I knew I was done with NYC. Once that decision was made, a huge weight began to lift from my shoulders… sort of.

finalchapternyc

Saying goodbye to NYC was no cakewalk. In those final days leading up to my departure, I walked the streets choking back tears, visiting all my favorite places, one more time, for now. I seriously wondered how I could make the decision to leave a place that I loved so much, the city that was now my home away from home, with so many friends who’d become like family to me. But I just knew I had to. Sometimes love isn’t enough. I may be a romantic, but I’m also a pragmatist. My current apartment sublet had become an unbearable daily onslaught of threats, bullying, and stress, and I no longer had the will to fight. It was simply time to let go and move on.

aurevoirnyc

You can be certain about a choice you’ve made and also have doubts; mixed emotions and why-if-onlys will still fuck with your head. As such, my LA re-entry has been a bit of a rollercoaster. At first, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. It’s finally over now. I’m home. I can relax. I settled in, enjoying the creature comforts of home and the abundance of natural beauty, but I also continue to long for all I left behind…

anothertrytugowar

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Have you ever made a gut-wrenching decision to let go of something you still love? Are you torn between two people, places, or things? I’d like to hear your story, so please leave a comment below. If this post resonates with you, share with a friend, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the top right hand corner of this page) so you can receive all my freshly pressed posts directly to your inbox when they go live every week!

Coming up next: exploring my bi-coastal-curiosity and what happened when I decided to return to NYC…

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Filed under Culture, Dreams, Hollywood, Love, New York City, Writing