I have finally found the perfect coffee shop. Wait, I keep saying perfect is a trap. But, right in this moment, this is as close as it gets. This place is a couple of miles from my apartment, with free street parking et al. I could have biked here. The walls are all glass. The sun comes in pretty generously. The coffee; top notch. Additional bonus is a chocolate cake made of olive oil. Where was this place all these years! I am (in)famous for (over)scrutinising neighbourhoods for good coffee and food. Yet, I missed this place for four years.
Four years. Can’t believe it has been that long already. I moved to LA in August 2014. Alone and very lonely. This country is a brutal one, without friends in the vicinity. Lethal hours of work. Couldn’t drive, so I used to commute on my bicycle. Lived in a trashy hotel, closely followed by a hole of an apartment. I always hated that Woodland Hills apartment. The balcony used to open up to a full view of my office. Sigh. So much for Hollywood and all the glitz. For six months, I struggled. I think no one really talks about this. That it is not easy. If social media and acquaintance’s perspectives were to be believed, I was having a ball. Traveling, partying and living it up. If only you knew the half of it. That time when I almost fainted due to a heatstroke in front of a Starbucks, and no one rushed to help. I was my own emergency dial. That time when I was hungry in the middle of the night, and the only choice I had was to cycle for 3 miles to the closest grocery store. I didn’t. Slept it off. That time when I first sat behind the wheels of a car on my own; scared as fuck. That time when I was so anxious, my own car made me claustrophobic and I had to park on the freeway emergency lane. We all have our stories. Tough ones and good ones. Yet, we always choose to tell everyone about the good stories. Because, we want the world to know that in this race for happiness and the good life, we are the top contenders. I hope that someday people will come forth and talk about the worst of times and let us know that it’s okay; the fog lifts eventually.
And the fog did lift. That’s my LA story. It wasn’t always good. Neither was it all bad. But, in summary, it was everything I needed it to be. My car became my companion for 70,000 miles. Old friends moved into the city. I made new friends too. We partied and drank together. We cooked at home and ate together. Hearty meals, full of love and warmth. I moved to a beautiful apartment, and the view was a peaceful hillside. Work became sane. Learned that self care is of utmost importance. Found Trevor and found myself in the process. Figured running is good for my sanity. LA slowly became home. A home with comfortable corners. My favourite bookstore, the libraries I would spend hours in, the bars where we sang ourselves hoarse and the ones where we danced till early morning, the cozy intimate spots for quiet dates and the coffee shops which served the best coffee. We laughed, we cried. We found love in the most unexpected corners. We spent holidays together and stitched together a family we could call our own. Also, I realised (yet again) that my parents are an incredible set. We became responsible. As parents. As partners. I guess, we all grew up. No, it wasn’t easy. It was terribly tough at times. But then, there were days when we cried with happiness. And days like today, when I am sitting peacefully in this beautiful coffee shop, at ease with my life and the people in it.
It is almost time to say goodbye to this city. I am not good at this. Saying bye. Someone dear tells me that I often live in the past. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I think. Every morning the anxiety of leaving loved ones behind creeps in. As I pack one more box, and label it. Then, the sun comes out, I sip on my coffee and breathe. Proximity was never about the distance, after all. All it needs is intent and effort, to stay connected. As for the new city I am moving to, it will feel alien and cold for some time. But I know, that the fog lifts eventually. As it did in LA. And how! 🙂