This weekend, I am going to Los Angeles for the first time ever and I am packing two pretty sundresses, my favorite jacket and all of my courage.
I’m not a skittish traveler. I routinely travel on planes, trains and Bolt Buses all over the country. I’ve spent almost a year of my life in Europe. When I was five, I crossed my first international border and remember being irritated that the Canadian Mounty shining a flashlight in my face had disturbed my nap. I can handle customs, delays and being stranded in the middle of nowhere. I’m also not afraid of big cities. I mean, I live in New York. I can stand next to a crazy homeless dude on a subway and not freak out. However, going to Los Angeles still kind of terrifies me.
A friend of mine told me once that everyone has one city that is a behemoth in their mind. It’s a city they don’t think they can conquer. It intimidates them and makes them feel tiny. At some point, I decided that Los Angeles is my behemoth.
When I was a little kid, my family watched Pretty Woman together. It was the first time I had ever seen Los Angeles depicted as a place where people live. According to that film, the people who live there are either mean rich people, poor drug-addicted prostitutes or ambivalent hotel staff. So, it became clear that even though Julia Roberts’s dreams came true, if I moved to Los Angeles, mine probably would not. As I got older, Los Angeles was repeatedly shown in film, television and in tabloids as a beautiful place where naive people go to get their dreams trampled. I developed an unnatural affection for all documentary shows about old Hollywood starlets who fell from grace under the pressure of the old studio system. Because of this, when I think about leaving New York to just visit Los Angeles for a couple of days, a part of me is worried I’ll end up like poor Peg Entwistle, a 1930s Broadway star who killed herself by jumping off of the Hollywood sign.
Of course, that’s ridiculous. A ton of really nice, wonderful and mentally sound people live and thrive in Los Angeles. In fact, the person I’m lucky enough to be staying with might be the kindest person I know. There are a bunch of lovely and successful ladies who write for this very website who are also based in the City of Angels. Essentially, I’m getting myself worked up only imagining the worst possible scenario for myself. I’m not going to end the weekend dead on the floor of a seedy motel room. In fact, I’ll probably just end the weekend jet-lagged and stuffed with In-N-Out burgers.
Right now I’m trying to pull together all my pluck and courage so I can say to myself that it’s going to be alright. In fact, it might actually be a lot of fun. Maybe Los Angeles isn’t the behemoth. Maybe my behemoth is just my own anxiety. I have to put aside all my concerns and worries so that I can be open to the fun that could occur. I don’t want to be the kind of person who decides a place is bad before she’s even been there. So I’m going to leap forward. I’m going to enjoy myself. I’m going to give Los Angeles the chance to be the setting for my new favorite memories instead of a city of someone else’s nightmares.
I’m definitely remembering to pack my courage, along with my optimism and sense of adventure. Now that means I can panic about whether or not I have time to buy new shoes to pack, too.