Oct. 16th, 2019, marks 6 MONTHS I have been an L.A. resident! Moving clear across the country from Chi, was by far, the craziest experience I’ve had in my 20’s. Granted this decision was not only my own but made as a family between my husband and I; it has been a bumpy, chaotic, and an EXPENSIVE ride.
Read my take on what it was like to transform from small Chicago bumpkin to a pastey Los Angeles local.
My husband, Wil, and I had been married about a year when he dropped the “but if we lived in LA….” one too many times when I finally cracked.
“ALRIGHT! If you honestly believe moving to Los Angeles will change our lives for the better—we need to pull the trigger… Like, NOW!”
With no children, our parents all living in different states, and just starting our lives together as a couple… we surmised this was the time we would either: embrace change and take a risk or continue down the cozy path we already loved. Though the thought of leaving ALL of our friends and family to a state where we legitimately knew like, 4 people (?) collectively, was super daunting. As the universe would have it, 2 WEEKS after we had that conversation, a job at one of the country’s greatest ad firms contacted WIL! This was when we paused and said with our eyes halfway open in our Cali•est voice “that’s a signnnnn broooooooo”.
I grew up in rural Michigan, in a very small town (like, population: 2,000 small), where it’s LITERALLY not considered a meal unless it has a side of HiddenValley Ranch. I remember when I was a teen, during one of those BONE-CHILLING winter nights, when my father refused to turn up the thermostat because it was MY fault for not wearing more layers around the house that I was cold when I realized people from the mitten are characters. Like tough SOB’s with enough grit to smile ALWAYS, despite living in poltergeist-like climates. But maybe, because I had a strange sense of humor <hehe> or strawberry blonde hair, and famous for dancing in entirely inappropriate situations… I always felt like I stood out.
It was hard growing up in a town where so many people seemed to all be going down a path that had a logical course. I constantly found myself feeling like, ughhh, which way was North again? Why do I love to draw and watch Monty Python and I’m 9 years old?
I say this all for a point… I never knew what an outcast I had felt like in the Midwest, until we moved to California.
I never fully understood just how much effort I was putting in to just trying to fit in for a lot my life. To harness my innate compulsion to sing, dance, be creative. It wasn’t until I found myself at the age of 29, when I was immersed in a culture that completely embraces individuality.
I do not know if this is my “I’m about to be 30, betch!” confidence budding; fully allowing me to really feel comfortable with who I am or maybe it’s because I now have a partner who also encourages me to unapologetically be myself? There are so many different variables playing into this new experience that has made it attractive. One thing I know for certain, April 16th, 2019, in Playa Del Rey, CA, when I laid my head down on that poorly inflated air mattress the first night, I felt my pulse slow and felt the strangest emotion. I felt like I was home. But also THANK GOD for FaceTime because I still wake up missing my friends every single day.
Side note: I know this isn’t a review but a word to the wise if you’re moving from Chi– DO NOT EVER use the moving company: Gathright Van and Moving Company. They DESTROYED majority of our furniture; communication was non-existent and do not even get me started about the b.s. “add-on” costs which accrued to more than $7,000.00 OVER our estimated price. This company is a scam and without the judiciary system I do not know if I would not be able to sleep tonight. No, literally, THEY LOST THE LEGS TO OUR BEDS! Rant over.
Back to sunshine, the ocean, and the blinding reality that EVERY SINGLE PERSON here has abs.
There is something just so different about living in Cali. I feel less rushed, less compelled to always be “on”, and so much more in control of my time. It’s hard to explain but my experience so far is kind of a constant state of that feeling you get when you’re on a long vacation. Not on the first or second day, when you’re still kind of just reviling in relief you don’t have to work; but, more of that feeling on the 3rd or 4th day. Ya know, when you’re really at ease and have accepted “this is who I am now! This is… vacation Andi”. That’s how I feel almost every day here but for the last 6 months! And in like, productive, way!
I keep waiting for the pace to change or for me to take a sunny day for granted, but at this point I’m ready to buy some Coppertone stock.
Living out West has some major differences than in America’s heartland. Here are some changes that took major adjusting to:
WHY. IS THERE NO. J-WALKING!? EVER!? The other day I was parking at work while I watched a man, at 5:30 a.m., stand at a crosswalk, for almost 5 minutes and there were NO cars around. ZERO. That is thousands of seconds of life, spent standing, watching a tumble weed CROSS THE ROAD BEFORE YOU DO. GONE. FOREVER.
Everyone here likes their space. And they do NOT like chatting when you have to share it! In say, an elevator, grocery store line, a long narrow hallway when you have to pass each other; these are moments I’ve had to surrender the urge to gab or give a causal high-five! When we first moved here I quickly surmised that no matter how packed Target may be… if you’re in an aisle and you see someone about to come down it but then they see you’re browsing there too- they WILL jerk the direction of their little cart and go down the aisle next to you until you’re done… spppppaaaccccccceeeeee. (I can count on both hands the amount of times this has happened).
The homeless population here is fierce but how people in L.A respond to it is… really enlightening. For example, I just watched a homeless man cross a 4-way, 8 lane VERY BUSY intersection, DIAGONALLY- where traffic was very patiently waiting- when he dropped A PENNY HALF WAY ACROSS. HE SLOWLY LEANED DOWN, FINALLY PICKED UP THE PENNY, AND CONTINUED TO JOURNEY TO THE OTHER SIDE. No one honked. No one rushed him. We all sat as spectators silently respecting this man’s deliberate frugality. I respected it but also knew this would NEVER happen in Chicago. I know this mostly because the 312 part of me took over and my hand was hovering over the horn as if it were daring me to honk for 4 minutes straight. In my experience so far, people here are kind and compassionate to those without a home and really, truly try to help them if they’re able. It’s cool.
It seems like there are a lot of low-key introverts here. Sure, some of the weekend scenes are “hoppin'” but during the week… this is the second time now I’ve had an Instacart delivery person drop off my items at the front door, and SPRINT away before I open it. #1, I’m fairly certain I need to sign for that stuff? #2 ARE YOU THIRSTY OR NEED A SNACK? LET MY MIDWESTERN ACCENT AND VALUES FORCE YOU TO ENGAGE IN SMALL CHIT CHAT WITH MEEEE 😭
*note to self: buy ALL NEW CLOTHES. this is an actual picture of me outside of a club in Los Angeles... we barely got in and someone asked me if Andi was spelt with an I or a Y. I’m just joking about the spelling but like, literally, need to burn my wardrobe. EVERYONE OUT HERE IS TRENDY AF OYYYYY.