Sunshine, palm trees, Hollywood, good weed – my whole life that’s what I thought when I pictured the city of angels: Los Angeles, CA. It’s no secret that I bleed Lakers purple and gold, and for 27 years I had a vision. That vision was coming to Tinsletown riding the power of my pen to paint pretty poetic passages that put me on paths that nobody had plowed prior. I was ready to, like the great urban philosopher Aubrey Graham once said, “transition[ing] from fitting in to standing out.”
On November 11, 2017 that vision came to life. My girlfriend Leslie and I drove into LA after a hell of a road trip that included stops in El Paso and Phoenix. Two days prior, we loaded up our dogs and everything we could fit into our Nissan Versa and drove from Austin to California. 4 states, 30 hours, 2 dogs, 1 very long trip.
Can I tell you something I’ve never admitted to anybody, not even Leslie? To this day, by far the most surreal experience of my life. I’ve never felt so good about myself on the inside. I felt like I was floating. It was a moment where every bodies praise meant absolutely nothing to me, the joy I felt inside was enough. I fuckin’ made it come true, I felt like Victor Frankenstein when he built Franky-T, “IT’S ALIVE! IT’S ALIVE!”
There’s a huge billboard across the street from STAPLES Center with Lebron James on it. On the billboard it says, “It’s only a crazy dream until you do it,” that’s exactly how I felt at that moment in time. I can’t tell you how many people used to laugh in my face when I’d get drunk and let out my wildest dreams, I still remember names. So, when I finally got that crazy dream off the ground, I felt like the best was just to come, but as we all know, the universe has a beautiful way of humbling you when you’re on top.
They say be careful what you wish for because the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I get it now. Like Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I didn’t quite understand the severity of that statement until I got here. I’ve written about this before, but I’ll reiterate again, the reality that maybe, just maybe, this may not all work out has added an anxiety to my life that I’ve never quite experienced. Biggie wasn’t lying when he said mo money, mo problems. There’re not many people I can really turn to and go to for advice when it comes to this. You want people to understand where you’re coming from, but the truth is they can’t because they never had the balls to go for what they’ve always wanted. People who’ve conformed and accepted that 9-5 is what their life will be always want to shit on your dreams, so I tend to keep it all to myself. It takes a certain type of person to bet it all on you.
I learned how to create balance. By that I mean I don’t make decisions for just me now, I promised Leslie’s parents that I’d take care of their baby and there’s no promise I’ve ever wanted to deliver on more than that one. Every time I see Leslie’s dad, he looks me in the eye, man-to-man, and says, “Take care of her. I trust you,” and there’s no bigger compliment I’ll ever receive. Los Angeles in general will do this to you but being away from all our friends and family has put me into protect and provide mode 24/7. And I can’t help but think that that’s a good thing.
If you’re not, this city will eat you alive and spit you back out to skid row. This town is cut throat, nobody here gives a damn about anybody but themselves.
I remember the morning Lebron James announced he was signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. I got the ESPN BREAKING NEWS notification and before I could finish reading the story, I heard a door slam outside and then, “WE SIGNED LEBRON WOOOOOOOOOO!” The city was electric and on fire, the only thing I had ever felt like this in a city was when the Texas Longhorns won the 2005 National title. Not even a week later the Lebron James murals were defaced before he had a chance to throw on the purple armor, see, in this city, people only fuck with you when it’s convenient for them. Don’t slip, it could be the last time you see the top. It’s a volatile mind-frame to live in.
The Los Angeles Rams were 7-0 headed into last week’s matchup versus Drew Brees and the high-flying New Orleans Saints. I listen to ESPNLA’s morning show and all week leading up to the game Keyshawn, LZ, and Travis were hyping up the Rams. Rightfully so, they had the league’s best defense and the closest version of a human robot the NFL has, Todd Gurley. They were undefeated and highly regarded as the best team in the NFL. The city had special metro trains with the Rams players on them, billboards everywhere, this was the first time that LA had cared about a football player speeding through their city since OJ. Fast forward to Monday morning, ESPNLA is THRASHING these guys, even the listeners were phoning in and roasting. I really had to step back and take it all in. Round these parts, you’re only as good as your last at bat. Just ask the Dodgers, a few weeks ago the city was painted blue in support for their second World Series appearance in as many years. Now, if you bring them up all you hear from the fans is how they choked away two straight titles. Ruthless out here I tell ya.
You’re just a number here, another face. In Austin, telling people I was a writer was a great conversation starter. People wanted to hear all about it. Here, you get the, “Oh you’re a writer? Who isn’t in this city?” It’s discouraging sometimes.
When I was in Austin, I was a big fish in this little pond. I got here, and nobody knew or cared who the fuck I was. I remember people telling me before that my dreams weren’t a possibility, that fueled me. A few months in and I started to remember what all those people used to say, there were points where I started to believe it. I was in a really fucked up place mentally. That’s why I always say, reach out to your friends who seem to have it all figured out and together. Usually, they’re the ones who need help the most.
I know most of this has been sad and depressing, but this first year in California away from my family has brought Leslie and I so much closer together. We live in a tiny studio apartment out here, with us being in such a confined space it made us be adults and talk situations out. There’s no place to run and hide out here, we have to look at each other in the eye and communicate through it. I learned that relationships are work and every day you have to clock in and get the job done.
I also found therapy, something that I credit my turn around to. It put my head on straight and made me realize where my priorities lie.
I was forced to do an honest inventory of myself and what it is I really want in this life. I had to really grow the fuck up in the last year. I thought it was all going to be rainbows and sunshine out here. I had this all planned out, but we all know that’s not how life works. As Mike Tyson famously once said, “Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the mouth,” and Los Angeles punched me right in the grill, multiple times. But I’ve gotten up, every single time. This city is designed to slowly chip away at your mental, but I’ve taken its best shot and it hits like a bitch. Year 2: here we fucking go.