Making My California Dreams Come True

Hi, I live here now?

Last week, I packed up three years in that apartment, 11 in NYC and 36 on the East Coast to give life on the West Coast a real try. Someone on Instagram asked why now and not when I tried it out in the fall. I don’t think I would have admitted it at the time, but I just wasn’t ready. I believe that this will ultimately be amazing for me, but I know it will also be difficult, and I just wasn’t ready to put myself through difficulty by choice. Even if it had the potential for an amazing payoff. But six weeks of intensive therapy made me realize that I *could* be happy in NYC or LA (or anywhere), but where I *wanted* to be was LA. I’m so ready for this slower-paced, more active lifestyle. Oh, and sunshine.

Even though I was really ready for a change, leaving the city:

  • I’d once considered the center of the universe
  • that I’d always dreamed of living in
  • and never saw myself leaving
  • where my mom was diagnosed with and treated for ovarian cancer
  • where some of my happiest childhood memories took place
  • where some of my toughest adult memories took place
  • that I’d lived in for 11 out of my 14 years out of college
  • where I grew into myself
  • that I thought defined me and my personality…

…was incredibly emotional. I rented a car to bring things back to NJ, and as I drove out of the city, I furiously wiped tears from my eyes as my Leaving New York playlist echoed in my ears. Driving downtown to the Holland Tunnel, I had a poignant moment stuck in traffic. With the Freedom Tower in front of me, and the general direction of my old apartment behind me, I saw my freedom ahead and the past behind me—and I was really proud of myself for taking this leap. For moving all on my own.

Twelve weeks ago, I checked into an inpatient mental health center because I couldn’t safely care for myself, because I’d caused so much self-destruction. But last week, I made this massive move.

I’m beyond exhausted. I’m having some pretty terrible headaches. The list of what it’s in front of me to actually make this permanent is long: find a place (I’m Airbnbing right now with the goal of finding a place to move into for a June 1 lease start), figure out a car situation for the first time as an adult, get CA health insurance (which praise baby Jesus, is so much better on the exchange than it was in NY), etc etc. Of course, I want to tackle it all at once. But part of this move is learning to really nourish myself, and so I’m breaking it down manageably—while starting two major work projects this week. I will figure it out, and it doesn’t need to be all at once.

I got this.

(But also: looking for any tips you have on settling into big moves as an adult.) (Or any LA tips.)


15 comments on “Making My California Dreams Come True

  1. Jamie

    congrats and good luck with the move! It will be good for the soul to be able to walk the beach every day.

  2. Heidi

    I moved to LA 26 years ago from Baltimore. It was quite a culture shock as to how vast and sprawling this city is. It was overwhelming to me at first. It took me about a year to get my footing but I’ve loved living here. I love the diversity, the weather, the food, the fashion, the music. The traffic is no joke though.

    I had a great career in film and tv and I’ve made so many deep and lasting friendships and have really wonderful memories. I’m toying with moving back to Baltimore now simply because it’s expensive and I’m the age where I have to think about things like that.

    I’ve followed you blog for a long time and admire your strength and honesty. I look forward to following your new adventure. I think you’ll love it here.

  3. Kelly M

    I have been reading you for several years. Well done. Grab life, it’s the right choice. And sunshine is always good for the mental and physical health. I admire your guts.

  4. katie

    For me when buying my condo and moving into it I would schedule out things. Instead of looking at all the things that needed to be done, I would assign one task to the day, and once it was done I could assess if I wanted to do another thing, or if real life needed to take precedence. Love to you!

  5. Meggie

    A few things!

    1) It takes a good year to adjust to a place and for it to feel like home. I’d argue really 2 years for it to feel like home, but by a year you feel more settled.

    2) LA is vast. Its a polycentric city and there’s no real center to it like other cities. Don’t go looking for a place that is “where everything is happening.” There are so many different areas where things are happening and each are fun/unique in their own way!

    3) Making new friends as an adult is hard. Again, takes about a year. But, it can be done!

    4) Rescue dogs. Its a thing here.

    5) Enjoy not having to go, go go. Everyone else is!

    6) Enjoy when its “cold” and people are in Canada Goose jackets…and its 40 degrees.

    7) Get thyself to Mendocino Farms.

    8) Embrace that LA is NOT NYC on the west coast and don’t try to make it like NYC. Getting past that mental hurdle was huge for me.

    9) Get used to being in car. Podcasts are great! Its just a part of life here! Also, a great time to catch up on phone with people

  6. Kelly

    So happy for you and glad you decided to make the leap. I am looking forward to reading about your life in LA. I moved to CO (from the east coast) alone when I was 24 and have never regretted it (22 years ago). It took at least a year, maybe more like two, for it to feel like “home” so my advice would be to give it at least that long before making any future decisions. I think you will find that moving permanently verses just trying it out for a few months, has a completely different feel, and I think it will feel very good to know the decision has been made verses last fall when you probably spent alot of your time dwelling on the decision whether to stay or not.

    Living “out west” is just a different culture, and one that has been really good for my spirit. The landscape, the arid climate, the western feel, all of it just speaks to my soul. I think you will love it once you get settled.

  7. Joan

    All I can say is that I’m really happy and excited for you and what I believe will be a very cool fresh start. Also, second the comment on podcasts while driving and add that Pandora basically keeps me sane on an hour-one-way commute every day. I know that’s not super-long by some standards but my previous job was within sight of my house soooo…

  8. Katie B

    I’m thinking of you on your scary but incredible leap, and sending you strength and fierceness. You got this.

    I lived in LA for about 6 years (moved from the midwest), and I recommend you check out the Riviera Village area of Redondo Beach (at the base of Palos Verdes). It’s close to the ocean and the infamous “Strand”, walkable to shops and restaurants, near the beauty (and peacocks!) of PV, and generally a bit less expensive. But there are so many fun areas of LA that you will find something just right for you!

    Also, there was a farmer’s market in Torrance that was amazing–tons of vendors with delicious produce and other foods and better prices than some of the other farmer’s markets.


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