It was midnight when I left her apartment. A tin box of keys under one arm, and a thirty-six pack of ramen noodles under the other. I couldn’t help but feel like Diane Lane from Under the Tuscan Sun in that moment. Not in the sense that I’m a forty something divorcee who bought a house in Tuscany on a whim; but I did move across the country into a studio apartment, and as life would have it, I became the manager of the building (hence why I was bestowed a giant box of keys… I can’t really explain the ramen). The building is located somewhere in Hollywood, which is truly nothing like Tuscany. There is a homeless man that hangs out across the street, and a couple that lives by our building with their dog. I hear the helicopters fly overhead almost every hour, and my fridge makes gurgling noises which wakes me up in the middle of the night. Sometimes I can hear the sound of crickets though, if my windows are open and the sirens aren’t drowning them out.
At the end of that visit which left me in my Diane Lane state of mind, I walked down the hall, back to my own apartment after bidding the owner sweet dreams. The door shut behind me, and I stared at the boxes piled on top of each other. Several of my books were scattered across the floor, along with tote bags, hats, paint supplies, and camera equipment. The blank walls stared back at me and I felt anxious. I needed to hurry up and hang some art and photos around the place before I lost my mind.
The box of keys and ramen remained attached to me. I couldn’t wrap my head around everything that had taken place over the past few weeks. I had moved to Los Angeles at the beginning of October, when my dad and I drove down from Northern California in hopes of securing an apartment for myself. After several days, nothing had turned up. My dad had to return home, and I (without a home) ended up crashing at my friend's apartment, where I stayed for the remainder of the month. During that time I had already begun my new job, and the commute to and from the office would sometimes take a couple hours. I was able to find joy in that back to back traffic though. It allowed me time to listen to all the NPR I wanted, or to rock out to some Pat Benatar if I was so inclined.
Solitude has actually became a large aspect of my life upon moving to Los Angeles. It became increasingly apparent to me when I settled into my own place, away from my friends and the life that I had started to lead. Prior to moving, I even deactivated my Facebook account, as a way to allow more time to acclimate to all the changes and not be distracted by external factors. My focus drifted internally, and I centered my life around simple things that would bring genuine happiness into my life. I felt this to be necessary since everything outside of my shell was more chaotic than I had originally anticipated.
During the first couple months, I have practiced yoga on the beach, wandered around farmer’s markets and flea markets, spent evenings editing photos and videos, made some delicious meals with a stove that doesn’t even have the pilot lit (and without even owning a microwave), signed up for an organic food distribution program offered at work, enjoyed IPA fests and movie nights, had dinner parties with friends, and even began writing a novel (shout out to NaNoWriMo). I was able to drive up north, spend a weekend with my parents, and take in the I-5 scenery. I took time to read books I had been aiming to read for years (and sought out to buy some new ones). I drafted a few new plays, started a couple screen plays, and laughed at episodes of Parks and Recreation. Then, being the grown woman that I am, I slept with the lights on because I was fearful there was a ghost in my apartment (still am, to be completely honest) - so I burned a lot of sage.
Living by yourself can be scary sometimes, even without the thought of a ghost being in your midst. It can be lonely without two dogs or a cat to greet you upon your arrive. It can be nerve-wracking when you're unsure if those gurgling noises are coming from the bathroom or under your bed. Despite that, and despite those occasional twelve hour work days, it's a nice feeling to come home to an apartment, that's only half furnished, where I can turn on The Temptations and dance around like nobody’s watching (except for my neighbors, who can in fact see me across the alley). I don't mind. There's something so freeing about this independence and starting a new life. It's the idea that anything is possible and that there's an exorbitant amount of new things to try- even though some of them might make you want to poop your pants. They're still worth trying.
Well, this definitely has ended on a less poetic note than I originally set out for when I began writing this piece. I'm sure Diane Lane's character (Frances Mayes, who wrote the original book, by the way) wasn't always eloquent at times either. But I sure don't remember her talking about poop. What I do remember (from when I would watch this film in high school) is Sandra Oh's character asking "Can you star-69 Italy?" and the woman in the large hat that would quote all the Fellini films. That character was always pretty awesome to me, and the type of woman I would love to embody someday. Until that point comes though, when I'm able to walk around Italy with a large cone full of gelato in my hand (instead of a pack of ramen under my arm), I'm beyond happy to be where I am today: nestled in my own part of the world, living the life I've only begun to imagine.
“You have to live spherically - in many directions. Never lose your childish enthusiasm- and things will come your way.” - Federico Fellini