A year ago today, I slipped off my shoes at security, placed my laptop in a tray, and walked through the metal detector. I waved goodbye to my dad and my sister, tried to keep it together until I could get my things back in order, and rounded the corner to the gate, trying not to cry.
I was moving to Los Angeles, a place I’d only been once before, with two suitcases and a vaguely hope-shaped thing in my heart. Forget getting to LAX with a dream and a cardigan; I had an address to give a cab driver and a tiny plan of what I was doing after that, but no job and no place to live. It was this crazy idea that felt right, and I was following it.
I passed through that same metal detector last week, and waved goodbye to my dad cheerfully. There was no instagram picture of a smiling Harry Styles to stop me from breaking into tears this time, but I didn’t need one. I was going back home, leaving one home for another, and I was looking forward to it.
It’s been a year of big, big changes. The girl I was last April 4th has nothing on the girl I am this April 4th. I’ve had to learn how to show up for myself. I’ve had to become my own best friend in a very real sense. I’ve gone places alone and stretched my comfort zone. I’ve been let down by people and had my heart broken and cried myself to sleep a whole bunch of times. I’ve spent way more money than I wanted to and then developed the painful-but-necessary budgeting habits that prevent me from doing that again.
Moving somewhere where I only vaguely knew a handful of people has been forced me to be really ballsy. When my landlord was uncertain about approving me for the apartment, I had to stand up for myself. When I didn’t have anyone to hang out with, I went places alone. When potential new friends got busy and didn’t answer my texts, I learned not to take it personally and chose to reach out again. When I heard the girl in front of me at an event talking about how she lived in my neighborhood, I got brave and talked to her. In a very real sense, that act ended up changing my life here in Los Angeles: it led me to join November Project and led me to signing up for the marathon, two things that have been hugely important to me.
I’m a person who doesn’t tend to take enough credit for the things she’s accomplished, but I can say this: I moved across the country without a job or friends, and I’ve made a life for myself that I like more than the one I left behind. It’s not revolutionary and I’m not the first or last to do it, but I am really f***ing proud that I’ve done it.
Last year on this date, I borrowed my friend Kelly’s car and took a drive to the beach to watch the sunset and eat pizza. It’s a monthly tradition I’ve tried to keep up as much as I can, and this month is no exception. But this time I’m bringing friends, and I’m going to toast to year two.