Friday, January 14, 2011

Go West Young Women

When I was 21, I drove out to California with a friend who was moving there. It was kind of a bitter angst with which I took the trip. A wondrous journey but one I knew I would have to leave behind. I was wishing the whole time it was me moving here to be a writer, an actress, and I didn't know yet I wanted to be a director. It was the first time I had really left my kids and it was for a whole week. There were only two kids at the time, Cory and Cassandra, and they were very young. I called every day to talk to them and check up on them. It was more difficult than I thought to leave for a week and less difficult than I imagined.
I was born in Santa Monica and lived there only when I was a baby before my family moved back to St. Louis. My parents were on sabbatical that year which is how we came to be out west. I have always felt the pull to Los Angeles. Not just as my birthplace but the place I needed to be to pursue the ambitions that burn within me.
But I had those children at home and no support system at all here. I didn't feel I had a solid plan or a realistic idea of what I would do and ultimately terror and indecision kept me there. It was important for me to do the right thing by my kids.
I decided that before I could possibly move I needed to finish college. Who knew it would take so long? But I gave myself a goal and I met it. I think those experiences along the way have shaped me well. As I look back at what I gained by having those experiences, I realize how ready it made me to be here now. Not to mention, meeting my husband and having the last two children- the first of which is half the reason I am here now.
The first time, I drove here, I was a fetus waiting to be born.
The second time I drove here, I was a very young woman, more of a child than an adult, a shadow of who I would become.
This time, I am a woman sure of my path and who I am.
We went to Disneyland on my 22nd birthday while I was in LA and it was magical in many ways, but I still felt like I was on the sidelines of my life. There is one picture of me from that trip and it is me standing on the beach in Santa Monica, right across from the neighborhood I lived in as a baby. Jeanna, my travel companion who was moving here, took my picture with the sun behind me so what is visible is literally a shadow of me. I think I had to find me before I could really get here to be me.
I remember chanting "go west young women" whenever Jeanna and I got back on the highway after a rest stop. I remember stopping in New Mexico at a gas station and buying crystals from some Rainbow Hippies on the side of the road, so they could get some gas money and get out of there.
This time, I thought 'go west, young women' as I drove with my daughter to take us out here, to take a chance and see where it leads us. We stopped more and I appreciated the landscape more this time. I think I saw more beauty than I paid attention to the last time. Marissa did a different drawing for every state we passed through. She likes road trips as much as I do.
I caught a glimpse of her reflection in the glass on the way into the hotel one night and for a split second I thought it was me. It's strange to look at her- naked ambition in my face, but without the fear and with all the confidence. That must have been what I looked like when I was alone and dreaming.
We have gone west. We are here.
When I pulled up into the carport of our residence, I rolled over a sign. When I got out of the car, I picked it up and it said:
"Destiny- the choices we make, the chances we take, determine our destiny."

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