The Beautician, the Royal, and an Impartial Turkey

The last time I went to see my beautician on Montana Ave, I had responded to her question what I was planning to do that weekend with “Oh, I’ll just sh*t”, instead of “sit and chill” (my mind does that on occasion – and I wrote a blog post about it previously). It was time to change beauticians and make an idiot of myself with another one. We’re still on Montana Ave, but across the street. The lady was very well dressed and made up. Classy. And late because apparently, the customers prior to myself had run late (there’s your German stereotype – I will definitely be early to such appointments – I can’t help it). However, Nicole was very nice, spoke in a low voice and asked few questions. I liked her almost instantly. As she applied the strip of paper underneath my eyelashes and the eyelash tint, silly me felt the need to recount the time that a beautician in Germany had to lead me to the sink to wash out my eyes (mind you – with eye lash tint on, you are advised not to open your eyes, so you blindly follow whomever takes your hand). I did bump into a few corners, but the hilarious part of my telling the story was that I felt the need to talk to Nicole using wild hand gestures since my eyes were closed. As I enthusiastically and blindly pointed to where that sink had been in Germany (not sure if I was trying to point across the ocean), I put my extended index finger directly on her breast. Bull’s eye! Even my post eye-wash apologies could not stop my face from flushing, but I was grateful that I was not able to open my eyes when it happened. I may need to change beauticians again…

I translated a book once for a member of the Spanish royal family. Well, technically, he’s not family… He had been through marriage of a relative and they’re divorced by now, I believe. I had not heard from him (let alone see any revenue from the translation) in years since I left Madrid until he contacted me again in 2013, extending an invitation that was extremely difficult for me (insert sarcasm here) to turn down: Without even attempting to buy me dinner, he said I should come visit him in his room at the Beverly Wilshire. I politely declined. Ten years ago, I don’t think I would’ve… But you know… People change. Mental pat on the shoulder :). So his next attempt in contacting me was last week. This time, he not only wanted another translation and perhaps a night out (or in… whatever), but he also wanted me to pass on how the Spanish police had treated him when he was protesting the political situation in Catalonia. To the American press. Again, I politely declined. Not only because I’d like to stay out of trouble and wish those in my circle (inner or outer) would do the same, but I don’t care much for press tattle-tale-ing. Even if I did… Anyway, he said he was waiting for me at the opera and I, again, mentioned that I was somewhere in the mountains (I had been, but was at that point in time, sitting on my bed enjoying some Netflix and chilling). It’s ok – I’ll just take myself out to dinner.

I spent Thanksgiving at home… The place where I currently live… With four friends. One guy, four girls, and I was responsible for the turkey. Huuuge responsibility (see how I like to stress myself with unnecessary tasks?!). I was very grateful for Whole Foods that day where I ordered a pre-cooked turkey and just had to throw it in the oven for another 2 plus hours. However, one of the other people (let’s call her Shannon) is a very particular individual – a pessimist with as much of a back-story as any one of us. She felt the need to kill my buzz half-way through my turkey. I was extremely happy that it had turned out well, all the sides were done, and there were only two of us drinking alcohol (two glasses of sparkling wine each). Shannon is a worrior, vaccine-opposed, and an emotional eater (among other things; and you may throw in “but she’s a good person” here). She felt the need to convince me (and the other person who shared the bubbly with me) of the detrimental effects of alcohol. As she was eating her yams. The yams that she made with brown sugar and topped off with marshmallows. I’m not a fan of confrontations, so if you let me have my drink, I’ll keep my mouth shut about your eating habits. I retired to my room. The police had already arrived at the house next door (before 2 PM) – because this is what the holidays do: People get drunk, and feel the need to argue with those who loooove to defend their point of view (perhaps those high on sugar?), and things get out of hand. Our house stayed quiet, and I spread some Christmas cheer in my room by streaming my favorite holiday movies for the next three hours.

Overall, I’d say it was a successful week. I touched someone else’s breast, turned down Spanish quasi royalty and defended my glass of sparkling wine. Life’s good.

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Bring it Back

As became evident from my previous post, there’s a lot going on. I haven’t found a solution yet, and maybe I won’t, but I found the time to do what makes my soul sing. Mind you, I cannot carry a tune for all it’s worth- I even messed up on a friend’s recent “Happy Birthday” Whatsapp recording… I refuse to sing because I know I can’t. Not even Christmas songs or the aforementioned “Happy Birthday”. Alright, I don’t refuse, but it makes me extremely uncomfortable. However, I know that it brings pleasure to others – especially when you completely miss a few notes. My friend in Germany was very nice – though he sent me a video of him laughing at me in return. I loved it.

Besides not singing, I found the time to run and take photos. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not very passionate about running – I would never advertise it, but it’s also because I’m not very good at it. I am faster from time to time, then slower, but I always run. It helps me wind down from an office day and see the sights around me. But I need a goal. The next one will be the Malibu Half Marathon in November, and it’s inching closer. I feel prepared, although I don’t expect much, but I have faith in my body again.

Another friend of mine is a running coach in Germany. I saw her in Florida not long ago and in California a few years ago – we always run together when she visits. She sees me struggling when I’m huffing and puffing behind her while her heart rate barely scratches 145. Then she runs ahead of me and starts singing German drinking songs. It cracks me up so hard that I have to stop. I can’t help but laugh – it’s so random. But it takes your mind off of the effort your body is putting in. Your body can do it – you just have to take your mind off it. Easy like that. So I’ll be singing German drinking songs in Malibu soon.

That’s the thing about having faith in yourself – some decision like which country to live in, which side to choose, which career path to take… Those things take time. I do trust myself although I thought I didn’t. It just takes time. Time to get your mind frame out of the panic-mode of having to make a life-or-death decision if it’s not. And time to do the things that make your soul sing.

Photography does that for me. I still have a whole list of photos with ideas, possible examples, and sometimes I set out to shoot one thing and find something completely different. Actually, that happens all the time. I love that. It’s such a cliché, but photography helps me focus and un-focus. To just let my eyes and mind wander, pay attention to details, be silly. And then figure out the technology, play with settings, editing… It becomes a whole thing.

When it comes to stressful situations and you’re not a doctor in an O.R. who has to make that life-or-death call, taking a breath, taking time in general, but specifically to go where your passion(s) take(s) you, is vital. Either way, getting out, exploring and then returning to yourself helps immensely in the journey to trusting yourself again. I found that I could all along, but thought that I had lost it. But if I lose my marbles, at least I know running and photography will bring me back. And German drinking songs.

On Deciding

“Indecision is a decision.”

I can’t think.

I can’t stop thinking.

“Maybe you should stop thinking and just feel for a while.”

I can’t stop thinking.

I could never be a judge. The evidence is there for both sides. And it’s devastatingly beautiful (or vice versa). The “Here” vs. the “There”. Both claim to be the better and they are tugging at me… Harder and harder. Until I wake up. I check my phone.

“When I look at your pictures, I understand why you want to stay.”

There was never a doubt about the “wanting”… it’s the “what’s a smart thing to do here” kind of situation.

I can’t feel because I can’t stop thinking.

And it’s my fault. Because I have people who love me dearly and who want only the best for me and to help me.

I think until I feel in extremes – extreme happiness or devastation and sadness. Extreme gratitude or helpless. I used to have anxiety attacks. The numbness that follows them is an incredible relief. I’m hoping for the numbness to set in soon.

Every new big decision is the toughest you’ll ever make. And I can’t make this one. I’m afraid. I’m so goddamn afraid.

“The world is your oyster.”

I wake up on Day 1 feeling calm and happy – finally, there’s an end to this thinking and list-making and pros and cons and friends and family and jobs and weather and memories and songs and opportunity and newness and change. I’m calm on my way to work, enjoy my favorite Pandora station and go about my day. Then all the things I would miss start seeping through. My conscience attempts to shut up my feelings “This is nonsense. It’s just you. And it’s not a decision for the rest of your life”. But it might be. Maybe not.

I have lunch, and finish the second half of my work day. I drive “home” to my friend’s house where I’m staying. I’ve cleaned out most of the things I own by now… reducing the total of boxes to 3. And a suitcase. This can easily be shipped within a week. I get anxious again.

“You need to regroup.”

I am terrified of making a wrong decision.

I long for my family. I long for a change and a move forward in my life.

But my heart. My heart aches at the thought of standing at the door with my suitcase, turning around one last time and leaving for good… for now. I try to finish the thought… To go to the airport in my head, check in, board the plane and cry my eyes out. Because now it’s too late. There is no turning back. Les jeux sont faits. Rien ne va plus. And then I have another 10 hours to cry and accept my leap and get out of my own head. This, I imagine to be the most difficult of it all. And then the liberating numbness sets in again. I hope. Once I’m on that plane and the plane is in the air, and everyone is asleep, I can be alright.

“We can’t wait to have you here.”

But I can’t do it. I’m not strong enough.

I have a job (not career) opportunity, nice weather and a life… sort of… pulling one arm… and the love of my family, old friends and my home country with new opportunities (and possibly a career) pulling the other one. Both are incredibly strong. I know I will definitely lose an arm. I either let each side keep pulling until… until what? I am already at the point where I am restless, sleepless, incapable of deciding… Or I decide which arm I want to lose… because it will be one or the other.

“Nothing beats a pool party in October.”

All decisions are for me to make. I am incredibly blessed to have a job, parents and friends who LET me decide. That alone should make it easier. What if it doesn’t? What if it makes it harder?

“One day, you will find your Mr. Darcy.”

I can’t read. I bought three new books that I can’t wait to get started on. But I can’t concentrate.

I watch a TV show. One episode in and I lost track. My mind is wandering. Checking emails and social media. I started on a movie.. One that I’ve seen a hundred times and that’s supposed to make me feel better. And it does. For a split second. I laugh.

“Wait a tic, that means I’m single again- Oh, behave.”

I went on a hike. I went to a party. I socialized. I ran. I wrote this.

I go to bed.

Day 2 starts out like Day 1. And then I go to work… It’s like Groundhog’s Day… Or what I imagine the movie “Happy Death Day” to be like (in theaters everywhere October 13th): A girl wakes up every day to her birthday and is killed by the end of the day. She keeps reliving the same day and is caught in this cycle until she finds out who her killer is. Is the only way to break out of this vicious circle to find who my killer is? Or is it a Catch-22? Even if I find out, it’s not going to put an end to the story?

I can’t stop thinking. I’m restless and exhausted.

“Sometimes You Wanna Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name”

Where were we?

Right… No matter how many times I’ve tried to write and rewrite what has happened, I keep deleting and adding information, rewording, over-editing and in the end, it’s not what happened at all. It is quite a lot and I will try to summarize… Without giving away too much information, but just enough for me to process and for you to hopefully enjoy the read. Without hurting or glamorizing anyone, which may be impossible and I might scream, but it’s a written scream, so you should be alright.

What happened to me happens to a lot of people. Every day. Somewhere in the world. Or let’s just say, I’m not the first person that this has happened to and I won’t be the last. So in no way do I want to make myself sound (more) special (than I am) here ;), but it was something that pulled the rug out from under me. Completely. I was on autopilot for weeks; survival mode for a month; and I merely functioned. I did not really enjoy anything I was doing. I was going through the motions.

It took an army of friends and family to get me to where I am now. I am currently rooming with a guy friend (let’s call him Frank for name change’s sake). Frank has a dog. A hand-me-down from his ex-wife. It’s pocket-sized, pretty old, has diabetes, is half-blind and incontinent. So for one, it’s a miracle that the creature is still alive. But back to the dog at a later time… Frank offered to put me up in his one-bedroom in West Hollywood while I go back to my 7-3.30 job to save up dinero until I can afford my own place again. At least that was the plan.

Frank has his own limo service (driving celebrities to and from the airport, movie premieres, after parties, parties in general) and some great stories to tell. Half of them are probably made up or embellished, but listening to him, I’m learning that my situation is not nearly as bad as what some others are going through. Every day. On different levels. But everyone has their own set of problems. I knew that before, but recognizing other people’s coping mechanisms just makes it more palpable and real. Frank, for example, has very irregular hours because when celebrity X drunk-dials him on a random Thursday at 3 AM, he jumps up off the couch, slides into his driver uniform and tumbles out the door right behind the wheel. So he doesn’t have regular working hours and sleeps on the couch, despite having a bedroom.

He has been doing this for decades. The room I’m staying in now has been named the “room of lost souls”. Boxes propped against the wall (some are mine, most are not), and the hood of my SMART car next to the bed (long story). Dog pee pads, toilet paper and paper towels on the other side of the wall, and a fan right in the door, blowing in the other direction. Several friends of his have been here over time, always for a few months until they got back on their feet, like me right now.

I’d like to circle around to the coping mechanisms again. When I come home from work, Frank is usually there and does his invoices while watching TV. There are four fans in the small living room (because no A/C and this is Los Angeles), creating a wind tunnel and my eyes are always completely dried up whenever I watch TV. Not to mention I’m frickin’ freezing and the blind, diabetic, peeing dog is lying on his little pillow island, ears blowing in the wind, having the time of his life. But Frank is not supposed to have a dog, and the dog barks because it’s blind and incontinent and it’s a dog, so the owners aren’t supposed to know and thus, Frank turns on the fans (for the wind and the noise), all radios in the apartment and the TV. Full range. All channels. I cannot hear myself think… and that’s a good thing.

But that’s not how he copes… Or at least not all of it. When I come home from work, he usually sits there and we watch some shows that he DVR’ed. He always listens to the intro of “Cheers”, and then switches back to the news. He sings along, “Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name…and they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same. You wanna be where everybody knows your name.” [piano outro] And I smile. Everybody has their happy place. The place where you are safe and nobody and nothing can hurt you. For Frank, it’s Cheers.

He DVR’ed a couple of ALF episodes for me (because I saw an episode on MeTV one day and mentioned that I grew up with that show). We now watch ALF re-runs every day (I’ve seen all of them multiple times and used to tape them in the 80’s, had all the audio tapes…), and we dissect each episode and google what has become of the actors. Maybe ALF is my happy place for now… Until I figure out my next move. But the next step is becoming more and more concrete. And that’s a very good feeling. It’s good to feel again. Something. Anything.

I’m in Miami, Babe [sic]

I’m still in the learning process with this WordPress Blog and finally figured out how to turn the „like“ button for each post back on. Yeih!  I get a little lost sometimes. Thanks for hanging in there! :)

During my Florida experience, my center has been the Orlando area with Daytona being my sunrise spot. I had the chance to drive over to Clearwater, Tampa, and Sarasota. All have incredibly beautiful beaches and accommodating warm Gulf Coast water. But a remark pops into my head that I actually hate… “I could never live here”. It’s what I said about Spain right before I moved to Madrid. It’s what I said about Los Angeles when we had a layover there some 20 years ago… I’ve lived in LA for several years. I’m not sure if I ever said it about Orlando when we went to Disney World around the same time (maybe 22 years ago), but I’m sure I must have… it’s a thing. Careful what you wish for!

Daytona Beach

When I visited Miami years ago with my parents, we stayed at the Hyatt Hotel where I befriended the barkeeper and had a crush on the bellhop. I think I was 12, but just as curious as I am now… I’ve just learned to pick my battles since then ;). I wanted to see the city again… just one more time. Even if it’s just to make sure I’m not missing anything. Talk about FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)!

The drive from Orlando to Miami is about 4-5 hours, depending on traffic. After a breakfast stop in Fort Lauderdale, we proceeded to Miami and booked a hotel on South Beach. Fort Lauderdale itself is cute. I didn’t remember it like that – I went there with my parents in 2013, we had lunch and just looked around for a while. This time, I was closer to the beach and it’s a very harmonious, unproblematic city.

OJ in FL
Fort Lauderdale Ocean Front

Miami is crazy. I can’t handle Miami, but I was only there for two days this time and we drove around a lot. I like to visit filming locations (movies or TV shows) – it’s my way of exploring new places and the first thing I look for. I also prefer to walk or bike, but for cities like Los Angeles or Miami, you need more time to plan those exploration days without a car, with only public transportation.

Hotel :)

Miami has a very different vibe than the West Coast. The weather feels more humid even than in Orlando, but it was quite the opposite (at least according to my phone data). Florida is just very humid in general. Period. People keep saying that and I want to say I appreciate it because it’s much nicer to breathe and better for your hair and skin. Yeah, no. I thought I could handle it, turns out, I can’t. Or I don’t like to.

Miami beach is beautiful, but crowded. I particularly liked the colorful lighthouses – they stand out. Ocean Drive is alive and bustling.

Ocean Drive

Downtown Miami is busy, hectic. The Hyatt has changed a lot. My mom said it hasn’t changed at all… Funny how you remember things differently. There were no bellhops this time. The inside lobby has changed completely. At least from my memory.

Hyatt

A friend once told me “Miami is good to live in when you’re done”… meaning when you’re either retired or have a lot of money to spend and don’t need to bother anymore. Or not as much. Ideally, both fall within the same time span. Although two days wasn’t much, I got a little bit of a feel for the area and I have to agree. I could see myself living in South Florida much later in life. Or travelling back and forth between “here” and there, “here” being a relative option.

South Beach

I’m glad that I got to see the city again. I visited Miami’s hot and not so hot spots and discovered for myself that I’m not missing anything; that it is not for me right now. At this point in my life. I needed that.

Three in One or “A Whole Lot Of Nothing”

I finally had my keyboard fixed. So now I get all excited that I don’t have to copy-paste the “-“ or the “6” or one of the other 10 keys that had decided to go on strike. Highlight of my day.

These are the last days of my cross-country travel adventure and it’s raining cats and dogs. I left the Amarillo hotel before sunrise to avoid the rush hour traffic, but the lack of sunlight and increase in liquid downpour didn’t make this leg any more relaxing than the last one.

The motto for the remaining days shall be “a whole lot of nothing”.

Whole lotta rain

My next stop would be a small town outside of Dallas where I checked into my hotel before meeting up with a friend whom I went to High School with. It was fun seeing each other again after 17 years… 17 years!!

Can you tell I was exhausted? :D

I didn’t leave as early as planned on the next day, but as usual managed to check the car, get a spot of breakfast and mentally prepare for the road to Mississippi. As with the leg before, this one turned out to be a whole lot of nothing. I took my friend’s advice and filled up the gas tank right before leaving Texas. Everyone had advised me not to stop on the way at all if possible. So I limited my own liquid intake and drove the speed limit.

“Sweet home Alabama”

The biggest mistake I made was booking a Red Roof Inn in Mississippi. Apparently everyone knew not to pick this one… I didn’t pay attention. It was a god forsaken motel in a god forsaken town surrounded by a whole lot of nothing. The lady who checked me in handed me the key to a room that was furthest away from the main building… Not what I had been looking for at all.

As I inspected the room which reeked of cigarette smoke and mold, a car (the only other car anywhere near this establishment) drove by and the young male passenger eyed little ol’ me standing by my car… I already pictured myself hacked to pieces in that little shed next to the motel.

Chair of doom

I requested another room and received one closer to the main building, but the night was as restless as the first one. There were other people staying at this motel, but it was creepy beyond all get-out. And that’s exactly what I did, earlier than expected.

This also resulted in my earlier arrival in Orlando, which was a relief. I was fresh out of energy, adventurous zing and will to drive. I was greeted by the typical Florida hanging moss trees and incredible humidity (even in December) and I loved it. That night’s sleep was deep and I unpacked the next day. Strange to think of all these details shortly before packing everything up again. Such is life… What a trip!

Lots of cranes around here

 

Road Trip Part V

The Way to Amarillo…

… Was a challenge. The morning in Albuquerque was similar to the one in Flagstaff, minus the snow and nose bleeds. Breakfast was meh coffee and I was not up for another cup of instant oats, so… Starbucks.

I only had one stop scheduled on the way to Amarillo and that was Cadillac Ranch. Like the day before, the rental had other plans. This time, the maintenance sign alerted me to the fact that the oil had not been changed in a while. Thanks again, Hertz. Not like I didn’t emphasize enough that I’m a woman travelling alone across the country and need my freakin’ rental car checked so that it doesn’t break down in the middle of nowhere. Plus, what am I going to tell my mother?!

The still photo is from a video I recorded and my last sentence was literally “I wish I could’ve enjoyed this nothingness a little more”. Hilarious – I hadn’t seen it since the journey and I was visibly pissed.

After several phone calls on the way to the next big city (which in fact was Amarillo… there is not much else between the two cities), a Hertz service guy told me to visit their service center in Amarillo and they will change the oil for me. The other option was to exchange the entire car at the nearest airport. Right… And losing at least another two hours in which I would’ve had to move my stuff from one car to another… Not happening.

Clouds and a whole lot of nothing

Needles to say, my mood had gone from adventurously determined to sour and impatient. Although the Hertz center in Amarillo was very accommodating. It only took them an hour to change the oil with the line of people that was already there.

The clouds over Cadillac Ranch added to the overall gloomy mood I was in. It is literally ten Cadillacs stuck in the ground and spray painted. On another day, I would’ve appreciated this art installation more, but I’d just had it.

Cadillac Ranch
Cadillac Ranch Close up

Thankfully, it wasn’t a long drive (barely five hours, almost seven with the oil change inconvenience). I decided to call it a day, fill up the tank (the car’s and mine) and get to my hotel. A hotel in a building with actual hallways and doors inside (as opposed to doors leading directly to the outside… you know what I mean). The Indian gentleman who checked me in asked if I was hungry and offered a yogurt from the kitchen fridge. Very kind man and reassuring end to such a day.

Three travel days to go. I’m dreading the weather. And I don’t want to drive anymore. It’s creepy and boring. And I’ve seen enough. It’s December 2nd.

Tree outside the hotel

Road Trip Part IV

Standing on the Corner

The night was restless. I tossed and turned, and my room upstairs had exactly two heating options: freeze or burn. Flagstaff is cold in the winter, and I opted for the burn since the motel blankets (both of them) weren’t enough to keep me warm through the night. I woke up several times to adjust the temperature, looked out the window to see if my car was still there and in the same shape that I left it in. It was. My nose started bleeding from the dry air by 5 am and I was relieved that it was almost time for me to leave.

Motel cuppa

After a quick shower and improvised breakfast (instant oats and a Styrofoam cup of coffee), I headed out. Except the car had other plans. Of course I had negotiated with Hertz forever in order to get this car and not another one that was more convenient for THEM, so after an hour, I was ecstatic that I even received this one. Right now, it requested for its tire pressure to be adjusted. The air at the Flagstaff gas station was broken, and I headed over to the Pep Boys auto repair, where everyone was very quick and helpful and had my tires checked and aired up in no time. Beautiful. Minor hiccup. Let’s get back on the road!

The in–drive entertainment for that day was Enigma’s Fall of a Rebel Angel, followed by the podcast Serial: This American Life, the first season.

Well entertained, I made it to my first stop: the Meteor Crater off of Route 66. It doesn’t have a name; it’s simply called “Meteor Crater”, conveniently located on “Meteor Crater Rd”.

On the way up to the crater

It was cold, but I came prepared. The friendly cries of a crow on top of the administration building fascinated me and showed me the way. It was more of a screech followed by a cough… maybe the crows are different up here.

I was by myself on the rim of the crater for a good 10 minutes. It was eerily quiet, like time stood still. No evolving, no change, just stillness.

Silence

I’m not used to this anymore. I grew up in a small town, but became a city girl somewhere between Madrid and Los Angeles. Cars and neighborhood noises are soothing to me. Except when it’s your direct neighbors and you hear every peep – not a fan of that! There are places out there where you can have absolute silence (the last time I experiences this was in Marina del Rey where I went parasailing). You can’t even hear the wind up there. And everything is tiny, insignificant, quiet, beautiful.

Meteor crater

I enjoyed every moment of the silence, but then headed towards the city of Winslow, Arizona, located in Navajo County along Route 66. It really almost doesn’t get more Route 66 than this. The city became famous via the Eagles’ song “Take it Easy” which has the line “standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona” in it. So I stood on the corner, walked around, had coffee, took my pictures and a few minutes to stretch and reorganize the passenger seat, and moved on out.

Route 66, standing on the corner
Take it easy

The route took me all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Very Breaking Bad. My motel, once again, was one of those typical motels where the doors lead directly to the outside which I have realized I dislike because it makes me incredibly nervous. I didn’t consider this in the planning phase. I went by the price, reviews and location, and it turned out fine. I had a nice talk with the owner while he was checking me in, and he suggested a cozy little Diner which I promptly went to.

66 Diner

66 Diner – one of the most authentic American Diners. Food is good, but the decorations and staff are what made this dining experience unforgettable.

Inside diner
Diner drinks

The sunset wasn’t bad either. 4 more travel days. I’m still alright. It’s December 1st.

Albuquerque sunset

Road Trip Part III

 

If you missed it, read Part I here: http://wp.me/p51E95-qY

Part II here: http://wp.me/p51E95-rk

Never Look Back

Find Road Trip Part I here: http://wp.me/p51E95-qY

I drove past the building displaying the Selegna Sol (Los Angeles mirrored) advertisement in the dark, turned left and followed the car’s GPS instructions from there on out ($17/day, plus Google maps, plus Road Atlas… you see why it was necessary…). And I became the waterfall.

There was nothing and nobody to stop me. Except the on-setting rush hour at 6. The sun came up. I would normally consider myself an enthusiast when it comes to sunrises and sunsets. Especially when I get to get up while it’s still dark and just head out with my camera to enjoy the silence and magic of early mornings. I have never less enjoyed a sunrise. I couldn’t even look back. Although I don’t look back whenever I leave Germany either… Ever. I hug, I turn around, I cry, and I go. Never look back.

The sun rose to my right and I still felt like a foreigner in the rental. The back was completely stuffed with my belongings except for 10 cm of room between the stuff and the car ceiling for me to look back… which I didn’t do until I was well outside of the LA area.

With my snacks, entertainment, and my travel teddy buddy next to me, I was starting to let the incredible sight of the California mountains impress me. I made it a habit to stop every 1 to 2 hours for fresh air and to stretch my legs, and inform close friends and relatives where I was. Barstow was my first stop and I took a break at a Starbucks near the Interstate.

I then continued on toward Flagstaff. The scenery changed from rocky, dry and chilly California to a relatively green, foresty, icy roaded Arizona . I’m not even sure I considered winter tires on the rental (which I was lucky to get as it was… as your experience has probably taught you, rental companies rarely have the vehicle that they advertise in their category).

Mountain sunrise
Mountains
Wild wild cold mountains

 

Arizona winter

I reached Flagstaff after a good 7 hours. There was snow on the road. I hadn’t been in the snow in years, but you very quickly remember why you don’t miss it. I also made it a habit to arrive at all my hotels around 4 or 5 pm before the darkness prevailed.

After a quick orientation in my room, I set out to see the town. I went to the spot where Forrest Gump was running and came up with the idea of “shit happens”. I bought two scones at a local bakery, gave one to a homeless guy at the corner. Dinner was Subway. Once around the block in the snow was enough in my converse sneakers. Time to head back to the hotel and call it a day. It’s November 30th.

Downtown Flagstaff
Shoes on snow
Forrest Gump “Shit happens” ;)
Motel sunset

Road Trip Part II

What a Difference a Year Makes

This one year’s leap was an extreme… But I think that about every year.

For me it was my work life, my personal life, and my location that have changed. With a simple decision. A simple text. An inquiry. A favor. Nothing that preceded the decision or the text or the inquiry or the favor was simple, and sometimes hurtful, but necessary… apparently.

The mysterious sounds of Stranger Things are echoing through the room as I’m writing this- one of the few albums I kept listening to in a loop when I was slaving away at my 7 – 3.30 in the Valley. Whenever I wasn’t answering phones, that is. It reminds me of the time that led up to this. I planned my road trip for a good month. The change was necessary and I would never have decided against it.

I was excited for the planning process, looking forward to pretty much everything. I’m a Virgo, planning is what I do. I had my hotels booked in time, the car was reserved, accounts cancelled or changed, and whatever else you do when you move. Except I barely knew half the things I needed to cancel or change since it was my first move by myself within the US. I think I did ok.

I bought an actual road atlas. On Third Street. At Barnes and Noble. This was my first call-to-action to myself, kind of a warning shot if you will. It was the end of October. Halloween was about to end (Halloween for me is an all-­year thing, except for Christmas which is granted the remaining two months).

Two weeks later, I gave notice to the Valley office job.

My friend and Ocean soul-mate Laura had just managed to fight her way back to LA.­ It was the first time I had seen her in about a year and a half (?). She made it back. And I was leaving. A few days before I headed out, she stood in my loft living room between packed boxes and said (in a nutshell, and in German) “Well, it still looks very livable”. I wasn’t sure whether I hadn’t packed everything soon enough, if I had missed something despite my meticulous planning and cancelling and informing and booking and on-setting insanity. It was entirely possible.

But I hadn’t. Time just needed to pass.

November 29th rolled around. The day my friend Aiza came over with her few months old son and they nearly froze their butts off (I say “froze”, but it’s LA, guys… We get wimpy after a while. Still, it was chilly.) while I was loading my life into back of the rental. I couldn’t thank her enough. I must’ve made around 20 trips while she stood there, patiently, watching over my belongings.

Last evening on my living room floor

Just as quickly, the 30th of November came. I spent the night at another friend and family’s house. The same house I had stayed at the very first two weeks when I moved to Los Angeles. They had a dog that was not only adorable, but also very old, sick, and incontinent. So my friend had laid out paper towels in the bathroom for the poor doggy to go on during the night after we had our last supper (Domino’s sandwiches… because Chinese food is to celebrate, not for saying goodbye).

Last sunset walk for now

My alarm went off at 4.30 am. I tiptoed around the dog-­pee­-toweletted bathroom floor into the shower, got ready, and headed out. My phone plugged into the car, my Leaving-­LA-­Playlist ready, I didn’t even look at the cup of coffee that my friend had warmed up for me. As soon as I was headed out the driveway in the protective quiet darkness of early LA mornings…. The driveway where I first set out to on my LA adventure, to which I returned after an intense movie premiere, and where we had comfort Chinese food…. Everything came back to me in an instant and I tried to push the memories away. I couldn’t. I had to concentrate not to turn into a waterfall right then. Keep it together, please… just keep it together…

The planned route

 

Road Trip Part I