“‘Cause I could break like a bird.
Or I could swallow the sea.
It seems like the daylight is coming,
and no one is watching but me.” —Counting Crows
With a weighty heart, I’m walking away from the city I’ve called home for the last 15 years. The only other time I was ushered toward the exit was at the completion of my college internship with the Beastie Boys in ‘99. I knew I still had so much left to accomplish, so much to explore. But I was dragged back east by the cuffs of my jeans, fingernails scraping the sidewalk. The most electrifying and enlightening period of growth I’d had in my young life was stamped with a finite expiration, and it was time to turn in the keys and retreat to the familiar. But I vowed I’d return to plant my flag.
I fell in love with this town from the minute my toes touched the smog-laden sidewalks. The energy. The hope. The constant buzz of brains consumed by a solitary pursuit. The land of dreams and dreamers, populated by an army of idealists and artists, is precisely where I found the welcoming, open arms I’d been waiting to fall into. It’s been almost 20 years since I was first smitten with a seductress disguised as Southern California, and it all zipped by in a hazy blink.
People talk about the nice weather and the constant traffic, but it’s so much more than that. The pound of the pavement and the cycles of the Pacific are inspiring, fueling, energizing, and driving us to be more fully engaged versions of ourselves. It’s less about the artificial sheen of glitz and glamour and more about the grounded grind. “Making it” doesn’t make us better, and most of the memories we’ll carry are collected during the pursuit.
This time, I’m leaving with a lot more knowledge about how the pistons move inside the grand Hollywood machine, but I remain just as enamored with the progressive perspective and overwhelming sense of hope that lives in this coastal town. I’ve seen the man behind the curtain, and I still believe he’s a wizard.
Over the last 14 months, I took a deep dive into this battered psyche on an exploration to find a meaningful justification and a greater sense of purpose for the next chapter. I slid a series of scenarios in and out of vacant brain spaces like a manic game of Tetris, and the only feasible fix for the constant trepidation about the impending tidal wave cresting above my head was a severe shift in my course trajectory.
Taking time to take stock of the reality that dwindling days disappear at a greater rate with every passing year is an important practice. Routines and rituals serve to speed our clocks, and if we don’t come up for air to check in with ourselves, we’ll drown in the monotony.
So, I watched another year slide off the calendar, spent some minutes trying to remember more than five truly significant moments from the last decade, and then made the decision to not allow ten more rotations around the sun to vanish by simply ignoring their pace.
We have very limited screen time on this show. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to see how the shoes fit when we’re 80 or 90. Only a select few will push much beyond that. Some of us get half as many chances to wipe the slate clean and start again.
Splitting the people I care about most into two groups on opposite sides of the country has never been a comfortable arrangement to accept. But I refuse to live with the regret of inaction. If I don’t spin the wheel to move the rudder, the scenery never changes. I’ll wake up an old man, wishing I’d better preserved the bonds that built me, and I’ll think of all the sunsets I took for granted, arrogantly expecting the following day to dawn.
I’m so grateful to have spent the majority of my prime years in this uniquely special city. To have been surrounded by an ironclad support circle as I navigated the wildly unpredictable waves that routinely accompany a creative life was the sole reason I was able to swim for so long.
But it’s time to switch tracks and replace stations. Let’s see where some of the other trains travel.
6 thoughts on “Goodnight, L.A.”
I don’t know if I can “like” this. You have written from your heart. You’ve never been one to settle when you know things aren’t right. I wish you the very best in this new chapter. You never know what’s waiting around the next turn…I hope it’s the best you can imagine.
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Thank you, Diane. I appreciate the encouragement and support. I need it!
You’ve just told MY Los Angeles story!!!!!!!! Before day’s end, I MUST make some, or at the very least, ONE dramatic decision or action, to shake up my status quo. Or…I, too, should pack up and go. At 55 years blessed, more than HALF the sunrises and sunsets I’ll ever see have come and gone. God knows I don’t wanna go to Nevermoreland without reveling in at least one full year of professional and romantic fulfillment. My clock is ticking. It’s tick and tock are almost deafening. I wish you the very best. Please, please, please wish the same for me.
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Thank you, Cam. Time moves WAY too quickly. Carpe diem!
This is so very beautifully expressed, completely heartfelt. I know that you will flourish as you enter this next chapter. It brings to mind these words of the late John O’Donohue in “To Bless the Space Between Us”…
“Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.”
Godspeed and please stay in touch. I will be in Orlando, Virginia, LA and places in between.
And please greet your Mother for me!
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Thank you, Ellen. Yes, it’s been a difficult time, and sweeping life changes are never comfortable or predictable. But I’m continuing to stay positive and hopeful that my decisions and actions will lead me down the right path. Thank you for the sweet support. It means a lot right now. Wishing you safe and happy (constant) travels!