Some people can see the writing on the walls before the ink has dried, and others, like me, need to be battered with signs to finally initiate change. It’s not that we’re dummies; just determined to have “dumb” dilemmas longer than necessary. You know that old saying about hitting rock bottom before things can get better? Let me tell you, I found the bedrock of my rock bottom, and it took. After ten years in Los Angeles and too many breakdowns, I finally had to accept that the sun was setting on my dreams there.
The phone slid down my cheeks in an avalanche of tears as I whimpered to my sister, “I give up.” The walls of my apartment, which once represented independence and growth, were now closing in on me, much like my aspirations in LA. I moved to Hollywood in my early 20s, not with ambitions of stardom or fame but fueled by the fantasies of a Santa Monica lifestyle. Imagine Samantha Jones and her iconic Tinseltown takeover, complete with champagne breakfasts, high-powered networking, and stylish beach walks. Instead, I was 34 years old, overworked, and underpaid with a rapidly declining social life… and those were just the issues I was willing to acknowledge.
My sister patiently listened to me wallow for two hours before offering the same advice she’d given in 2014 when my car was broken into, in 2016 when I had a massive health scare, and in 2020, when the world was literally ending, “I think its time to come home.”
This time, I listened. It was like verbalizing my defeat made it real but also permitted me to let go. Sometimes, you have to let go to get a better grip on life, you know?
A year earlier, I had announced I would be kicking off my mid-30s personal renaissance in Portugal. It was a random, albeit sound choice, and my plan was to save money through the end of the year before making the big move. However, that plan derailed when I lost my job (again) and landed in a self-induced doom spiral. Pride made me believe that I would miraculously be able to save for an international move while earning a quarter of my annual salary and spending $4,000 a month on rent and…