Two and-a-half weeks ago, John and I left our homes near Baltimore. Now, we’ve been in L.A. for a week and a day. It was as easy and as hard as that.
We got off to a rocky start here in L.A. We showed up to our hostess’ house where we’re crashing, tired and grateful, on a Thursday night. Before bed, we spent a couple solid hours scouring Craigslist and Padmapper and Zillow and all the other housing sites lining up appointments to view apartments the next day. I woke up bright and early Friday to find John’s iPhone in a pool of air freshener oil. The screen was an ominous cloud of grey that was quickly spreading. An unexpected expense. Which was kind of my fault.
Pressing on (scented phone in tow), we made our way to an auto shop because of the funny way John’s car was acting after the long haul cross-country. He was driving and answered a phone call from home. Seconds later, a cop pulled us over. Unexpected expense number two, and a lesson learned: Don’t mess around in this town.
One new phone and a court date later, we were already weary on our first full day, but we kept moving. The search for an address still continues today after a couple of heartbreaks over lost apartments. Another thing I’ve learned? Though the “for rent” signs are everywhere, it’s really hard to land an apartment in this town. I’m keeping the faith, though, because I know what a huge weight off our shoulders it’ll be once this stage of the game is over.
As for the rest of our trip here since Memphis, we couldn’t have had a better time. Though it seems like ages ago now, our stops in Santa Fe, Sedona, Mt. Zion and Vegas were a total adventure and the trip of a lifetime. Some of the highlights:
The farther you travel and the more strangers you meet on the road, the more you realize just how small of a world it is. People know you’re not from around here (wherever “here” is on any given day) and so they ask you where you’re visiting from. You say Baltimore, and they’re either from the area or know someone who is. (One old man in Nashville asking for money on the street had a “cousin” who was a Ravens player.)
The strangest case of serendipity was when we stopped in the beautiful Sedona for two nights, and the couple who owned the immaculate Sedona Motel also previously owned the building where Baltimore’s former Urbanite magazine—where I worked briefly—was housed. And the woman taught at the same college that John did. Sedona was a much-needed retreat from the other questionable motels we stopped in. We soaked up the healing properties of the vortexes, snuck into parks to avoid fees, and caught the most amazing panoramic views from the top of a canyon. (Nearby, a young guy walked around holding his baby nephew and a beer, loudly confessing his sins and teetering dangerously close to the edge of the cliff. It’s hard to escape tourists when you’re a tourist.)
Before we left for Mt. Zion National Park in Utah, we stopped off at an overlook for one last mental picture of Sedona. A woman walked by our car, looked at the license plate and said, “You sure are a long way from home.” She was right. We really were.
One wild coyote, a couple cockroaches, and lots of lizards later, we were on the road again.
The trip was actually even more beautiful than expected. Though driving did wear us out, it hardly ever bored us. The southern route was the way to go. The hardest part about the trip wasn’t my frequent saltwater syringe rinses (a fun, post-wisdom teeth removal ritual), but feeling the need (and failing) to stay in constant blogger/photographer mode, capturing every single beautiful view. Once I stopped being so hard on myself about it and realizing, duh, that the point of this trip was to experience it, I was able to soak it up and truly be in the moment.
And now, we’re on West Coast time. Still searching. A bit exhausted. But still hopeful. It’s not the picture-perfect experience you dream of, nor the lesser version of that I’d hoped for, but it’s a new chapter and we’re embracing it. L.A., we’re here to stay.