Oh, California! Dear Los Angeles, with palm trees galore, blue skies, and air that fills my lungs with vigor, I love you! Yes, I think I can make you home. You, with your succulent jasmine aroma, and bright flowers that line every sidewalk. Yes, I think we’ll get along just fine.
February brought a feeling of hope and excitement, as I arrived in a new place for a new chapter of my life. There was life and a fresh feeling among the skies of L.A. My 11 year old self clashed with my 25 year old self. Several layers and chapters of myself rested between the bookends of 11 years old and 25 years of age. Flashes of my 11 year old self would echo in me as I navigated this new place. “When I grow up I’m going to live in California!” I heard her say in my head, practically drooling with anticipation.
Then my mind would flash forward a few years to my 19 year old self. She was just starting college and more fearful of the world. She had a hard time making lemonade out of the lemons that life gave her. She didn’t want those kinds of lemons, and she didn’t want that kind of lemonade, and she didn’t want to be the one to do the juicing. So fear consumed her. California no longer seemed like a fun, exotic place to dream about. No where was fun to dream about. My 11 year old self was long forgotten. College felt like a battle ground and I was not only at war with my school work, but I was also at war with my inner demons on a daily basis. This consumed me for five years and then some. 19,20,21,22,23. Each year when someone asked what my plans were I couldn’t tell them anything. When someone would ask me where I wanted to live I couldn’t say. Passion had left my being. It felt like the light had gone out of my eyes and I was always apple bobbing for my heart, sometimes even plunging to the bottom of the ocean and having to do mouth-to-mouth to revive my heart.
Finally at the ripe age of 23 I graduated from college. I didn’t know how to feel. It was hard to process. The cliché saying “The world is your oyster” kept bashing me in the head. What does that mean? There’s no way it could be, I thought. I continued to have brutal battles with my inner demons. My name was called, Barbara Noel Foster. I began to walk across the stage in my cap, gown, and high heeled shoes that had previously given me a blister. I felt my shoulders tense up as I walked and the blister twisted into my heel like a small screw. I thought about how my family was in the audience of guests and my theatre professors were on the other side. Then everyone arrived on the Chapel Green for an outdoor reception. It was beautiful, and yet, I felt so strange in it. I wanted desperately to debrief this moment with my theatre professors and friends, but there was no time. Everyone was processing their own stuff and full of pride for the day. So I let it slide and got lost in mingling with people. My parents snapped photos here and there, but no time to make sure that they were good. As long as we had some pictures among the chaos of the day then that was fine. At last, the day was over, things were packed, and the next day I made my way home to Connecticut. Things seemed to move really quickly after that. The month of May came to a close and so did my father’s piloting career. June went by in flash and before we knew it mid July was upon us. My dear childhood home was stripped, almost bare, of everything and packed into boxes. Emotions ran high among the family and my mind didn’t know what to do. The next day I made my way to Michigan for a brief wedding celebration and before I knew it I was landed in Florida, my new home.
Parents and dogs had already set up camp a little bit, but parents came and went over the next six months and so did my pride for my college degree. For six months after graduation I grappled with my college experience, and how I wish I could feel different. The change of address was not helping my self-esteem, but eventually inevitable growth took over. I celebrated my 24th birthday in Florida, taking care of the dogs and the house. I had no idea who I was anymore, where I was going and what made my heart tick. Thinking about getting a job, getting my own place, and where I wanted to live didn’t light me up one bit. In fact, it made me retreat further. That year was rough, to say the least, but I managed to make it to 25.
Four months after turning 25 I arrived in Los Angeles California. The many years of brutal battles was not quite behind me, but I was stronger when faced with my demons. I was ready for this new chapter away from the hurt, intense isolation and heartbreak of change. My 11 year old self was suddenly revived and teaming up with the maturity of my 25 year old self. I found myself dreaming up all the ways I wanted to touch the world with my art and a recently thought of art at that! Oh California! Dear Los Angeles, you’re beautiful! Yes, I think I can make you home. And there went February.
March was full of promise, as I learned the ropes of adult life and settled into the new job. Dreams of creating art and the joy of making things were still palpable, but then the world broke. A sea of unsure times crashed over my newly formed life. This unknown feeling leaked into April.
However, spring has flourished throughout the city and has bathed the streets with gorgeous colors. The air smells sweet like candy and the joy I felt in February lingers whenever I go out for walks.
Oh, California! Dear Los Angeles, I love you! I haven’t come home yet, but I’m making my way to a new home. Thank you for being so lovely. I’ll do my best to sit still, and read on. I won’t give up on this new chapter just yet. Dear, Los Angeles, keep spraying your colors, igniting the air with delicious scents and filling my heart with life. I have hope that things will get better. I look forward to what’s ahead.
Picture from Megan Gray