Los Angeles, Part 1

Most people who decide to move because of a girl do so for that girl -- I did so despite her, or even to spite her.

I landed in Los Angeles on June 9th, 2002. I had never set foot in this city before that night.

The plan, months earlier, had been for me to join my then girlfriend in Los Angeles.  She was moving out here ahead of me and would get us an apartment.  In the ensuing months, however, that relationship ended, and I batted around the idea of simply staying in Atlanta, even though I had already given notice at my job.  Why would I move to Los Angeles for a girl I was no longer with?

I realized, however, that the idea of moving to Los Angeles was easily just as appealing (if not more so) without her than it was with her.  Before I'd graduated from Ohio University, I considered moving to two cities: Atlanta and Los Angeles.  I'd spent two years in Atlanta and was ready for a change.  I had planned on that change.  I was looking forward to it.

And, you know what?  I wasn't going to let that girl stand in the way of that.  I wasn't going to let her determine what I did with myself.  I almost thought of it like staying in Atlanta would be admitting defeat.



The rest of that plan held true: I moved into the apartment that the now ex had gotten for us.  It was a one bedroom.

Over the last nine years I have told this story quite a bit, and almost every time I tell it, people jump to the conclusion that my time in that apartment with my ex was spent being very un-ex like.  And I have to explain to them that they're wrong.  Said theoretical people are always surprised at this, probably because the idea of sharing a one bedroom apartment with an ex over four months seems like it would lead to tricky situations.

But I just turned my Midwest on.

It's weird, looking back on it, to think that I was able to completely shut myself down while I lived with her.  But I did.  I suited myself in impenetrable armor and there was never a chink.

I was jobless for three months, living off of out standing bonuses coming from my last job and, of course, my credit cards.  I spent my days writing and looking for jobs, although more of the former than the latter.  I went for walks around my neighborhood, Little Armenia.  I used the fax machine at the copy place just a block away from the Church of Scientology.

A week after I arrived, I watched the U.S. play (and defeat) Mexico in the World Cup.  I thought it was fantastic to be in a city where such things actually mattered to people.  I watched the game at a friend from high school's house and we drank Coronas.  I think I've only seen him once since then.

The ex worked as a receptionist at a hair salon in Beverly Hills and I started getting my haircut there, even though I couldn't really afford it.  I felt as out of place as could be.

Those first few months were not particularly fun for me, but they were adventurous.  I eventually found a job that wasn't remotely close to where I was living, which meant I had to take the bus.  The Los Angeles public transportation system is a bit of a disaster, mostly because the city is so spread out.  The trains don't really go where you need them to go and the buses are always over crowded because of this.  Every morning, I would wait for my connecting bus on the corner of Santa Monica and LaBrea and watch the transvestites on roller blades glide past me.

My favorite, most often repeated story about riding the bus in Los Angeles is this one:  One day, a fairly old looking homeless man got on.  He stood at the front of the bus and announced to all of us "Today is my birthday! I am 45 years old! And I've been smokin' crack for 20 years!"

All things considered, that's probably a pretty amazing feat.

The lease on our apartment finally ended.  By this point, another friend from college had been staying with us (on the couch), and he and the ex found a new place for themselves.  Since I still didn't have a car, I made a point of finding a new place close to my job.  I managed to find a studio apartment that was only a few blocks from where I worked, which meant I had probably the shortest commute in all of Los Angeles.

That apartment on S. Cochran Ave. would have a huge impact on my life, and give me something of a fresh start.  It would also lead to a lot of changes in my life.

And here are a few songs that were on heavy rotation over the first few months that I lived in Los Angeles: