California Drawer

I got used to making my own coffee in the morning – the comforting sound of the mumbling and hissing machine followed by the smell of fresh brew just gets me. However, every once in a while, I will get into my little car and journey to the nearest Starbucks or 7/11. I’ll go to Starbucks when I miss my mom especially (she always gets a Cappuccino if it’s morning or an Iced Chai Tea Latte if it’s afternoon). I’ll make a stop at 7/11 if I miss California especially (see https://lenafound.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/why-cinnamon/).

Two years ago, June 2015, everything was different. It doesn’t seem like it. It seems like it was yesterday. I was elated and settled in my single-life, going out every once in a while, riding my bike on weekends, but deep down, I was anxious. I needed certain things to work out, which in the end, hadn’t. I wanted to belong in a drawer, but didn’t know which one. Romantically, it was the best that could’ve happened since it (around three corners) led me to where I am now.

Work-wise, I was hoping that my first job at the translation office would improve. It didn’t, and there have been many changes to that workplace itself since. It would not have been healthy for me to hang on, so I let go. Selfishly.

I moved on to a job which was further away, but in the end, was not able to provide what I needed (or had hoped for) either. It was an office job which made me feel like I couldn’t be myself. It just wasn’t me. And if I’m not myself, I can’t give my all, my best, my everything, which made it a dead-end job instead of a career.

I quit, packed my bags, and crossed the country. I have always been a doer, but to be honest, I was glad when that trip was over and I had made it across safely. I cried a lot when I left Los Angeles at 5am just before rush hour. I cried until I reached Barstow, where I went to a Starbucks and had a Cappuccino. Then I became numb, and endured… for five days until I reached the East Coast.

Nothing has happened in two years, but everything has changed. Everything. Well, everything that needed change. That I wanted to change. So that everything can be better, the second time around. I have found back to my old shape. I’ve become clearer on what I want (although that may change quickly, but I anticipate that kind of change, so it’s all good). I’m overall more positive about the future and I most certainly know what I don’t want, which sometimes, is worth more than knowing what you do want.

As I jumped out of the Florida 7/11 that morning, French Vanilla coffee with Hazelnut creamer in hand (I have yet to I find a 7/11 down here which brews cinnamon coffee), and a lady opened the door for me as she walked in. She looked me up and down and said “Oh yeah, it’s you. You’re cute.” – “Excuse me?!” I responded, not bothering to take off my sunglasses again. “Oh no,” she continued, “I saw the car outside with the California license plate, and then I saw you in your little outfit, with your sunglasses, and it can only be you. You’re very California.”

She had no idea how much she had made my day. I smiled for the remainder of the way home and then some more. Yesterday, I received my renewal car registration sticker… for California… And I feel more complete.

As for me, my essence… has become Californian. I’ve found my drawer.

 

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 30: How have you changed in the past 2 years?

Banana in the Tailpipe

At some point, you know every note to the Intro. You know which characters appear when. You know the exact mood, timing and intention. A favorite movie has so much responsibility. It’s there to comfort you when you feel confused, defeated, uncomfortable. It’s also there to keep you company and cut through the silence of your living space.

American Psycho was the first movie for which I actively felt that it kept me company. I lived in Spain at the time and didn’t trust in my ability to speak the language much or understand it sufficiently to fully participate. And frankly, it tired me out. I needed to retreat and watch a movie in a language that I was able to not only understand, but that I also tolerated emotionally. English is my second language, and I still adore it. I watched this movie over and over, a crappy burned version because at the time, there were no Netflix, Hulu, download platforms except the shady ones. It’s not a Horror movie to me anymore and I don’t even know WHY exactly this movie, but I guess it was an eeny­­­­­-meeny-miny-moe decision. It hit American Psycho.

American Beauty, certain similarities to the first one, is my other go-to. My first job, as I mentioned in earlier blog posts, was concession at a movie theater during High School. When I graduated and went on to Uni, I also decided to return to Germany. American Beauty had just been released in theaters when I returned and it was the last movie I walked (with a super cool glow stick to check sound and theater temperature) and supervised before I left. Beside it being beautifully written and geniously carried out, I always tie it to my transition into an old life that I never wanted to have again. But I made the best of it, and grew from it.

Away from the Americans, toward German comedy. Otto Waalkes is probably Germany’s most famous comedian. Like so many of his fans, I’ve watched his movies until I knew every word in my sleep. One of my good guy friends back in Germany is also a huge fan and having this in common actually keeps us going :D. Funny, but good comedy really connects. So whenever we talk or text, there is a line from Otto’s movies in there somewhere. There are entire text conversations in movie quotes only. His films helped me and provided comfort (again) when I moved back from Spain to Cologne, Germany.

I first visited LA when I was a teenager. We were there on a layover to Hawaii and I absolutely hated it. A decade later, I returned and fell in love with it. Police Academy (mostly 1-­5) provided comfort on Sundays when I had the week behind me and just wanted to be in my bubble, order Domino’s and be comforted. When I finally moved over there, after all the work and sweat and tears had paid off and everything worked out, Clueless and Beverly Hills Cop joined the favorite movie collection. Of course I had seen them several times before, but I believe you connect differently with movies for which you’ve visited or live in the filming location(s). Which is exactly what I did.

Movies are there to carry us away, to take our minds off of our worries. At least for that hour and a half. I admire the way the writers and directors, producers, and actors make something so big out of nearly nothing. All these movies have helped me time and time again. Even if they’re just playing in the background, providing comfort while you cook spaghetti for the first time in a new place.

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 16: Post your favorite movies that you never get tired of watching

Story of your life in 250 words or less

I was told it was a sunny September Saturday (never start with cacophony) in Germany and I just barely made it to the hospital.

Growing up in a small town, I played tennis and basketball, met my friends after school and never minded staying in and entertaining myself on rainy days.

At 14, I moved from Germany to Connecticut with my parents, continued playing tennis and learned a new language… or three. I lived the High School life I had always dreamed of and witnessed on TV – the lockers were the best. Strange! We moved again and I changed High Schools. I ran my first track meet and became a cheerleader while working at a Blockbuster and a movie theater.

I studied Psychology for a year before going back to Germany – where they put me back in 10th grade because the German school system did not validate American High School diplomas. I dropped out, worked at a gas station and a Burger King, went back, got my degree, and started studying.

I moved to Spain where I once sat through an 11-course meal for 5 hours (everything with mushrooms) and was brought home in a grey Ferrari.  After three years, I got homesick and moved back to Germany- different town though. I fell in love, fell out of love, finished my BA in communications and my MA in specialized translation, got my degree in fitness training and had the opportunity to move to Los Angeles.

I fell in love with this city, meet new people regularly, and love my Sunday routine talking to mom while we have coffee.

In a nutshell. Minus the drama.

Home.

The move to Los Angeles was the 15th in my life. Packing bags, boxing up memories, sorting out the junk and starting over. The diaries I wish I had kept over the years were whittled down to two or three (out of countless). A memory box with letters, dried flower leaves, gum wrappers, and my favorite pair of jeans or two are going, going, gone. The physical move from one place to another is only a small part of the adventure, although it takes you through your past. You look at each piece of clothing with different eyes: whom you met when you wore it, what you did, and wonder if you’ll ever miss it… or them. You don’t! The separation of the physical belongings is very eye-opening. And it’s the part that I remembered most of the time.

Taking the first steps in new territory is exciting and scary. When I first moved into a Spanish “residencia” in Madrid (with 26 Spanish girls), I didn’t dare to walk further than from my place straight to class. I then ventured out to grocery shop, and peeked into different roads, figuring out that I could’ve easily walked those three stops instead of taking the stinky metro. Although Madrid’s subway system is absolutely perfect – there is no place in that city that you cannot reach with el metro.

The development that you have no control over, and it just kind of happens, is establishing a routine. You learn how to take care of yourself. Sometimes isolated, other times… not. At the Spanish place, timing my bathroom schedule when I lived with people (especially with 26 Spanish gals and 3 bathrooms) became a challenge all on its own. What time you leave the house to go to your job/class, which route you take, who you meet there, when to take lunch, what to do afterwards, just happens.

It’s finding a new circle of friends, or not even friends, but people you can at least hang out with or confide in, that’s really challenging. At least for me. But they are there – and you find them. You go out with people and with some you click, with others, you really don’t, and you figure it out quite quickly.

Moving to LA was easier for me than moving to Madrid. Spain felt like an escape I needed, whereas the US are something I want-something that feels like home (or as close to home as it gets, if it exists). I really wanted this and did everything to make it work – in Madrid, I did too, but not with the same passion. Still, it took me about a year to feel “at home” right where I am. Although I worked for it, lived from paycheck to paycheck and very helpful parents whose support I don’t want to accept, but had to and am happy that they are able and willing to offer it – it’s all part of the process and worth it in the end. You wait for each paycheck, eat your lunch on the floor until you can afford a couch, a TV , and a simple coffee maker – it took a long time, but I guess that’s normal if you’re starting over. And I like a challenge!

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I also like this place… this city, and the people in it. Not everything and everyone all of the time, but in general, it’s as twisted and comforting as I had hoped it would be.

The definition of “home” becomes vaguer the more you move or the more you start over. I met with a wonderful group of German girls a couple of weeks ago (and hope to do so again soon), and one of them perfectly verbalized her (and my) reason for being here: You’re here because you want to be here. Nobody forces you. Nobody holds a gun to your head and says “you have to make it” – it’s completely voluntary. But the ambition… oh, the ambition. It really is true what they say: If you put your all into it (your thinking, your being, your breathing), you will find your reason for being in a certain place – that’s just how it is. And I’m very happy and grateful to finally be part of it.

It’s an enormous gratification to know that you’ve finally found a place called home. It is what you make it. It doesn’t just happen. I’m not sure if LA will be my last home- at this point, I’m hoping it will be. I’m excited to see what else I can find in this city… And I’m very optimistic. It feels right. For the first time in a long time.