Leaving Los Angeles to head back to Denver in a few short days has begun to make more sense the closer I get to boarding the plane. I will be completing a triangle. I will be arriving at 7 pm on the 4th of July, just in time to catch some Colorado fireworks.
1st Leg: I left Denver in January, 2017 and made my way up to the beautiful and pristine San Juan Islands, never having been there and not knowing a soul or having employment lined up. It worked out perfectly by way of a good job landed and a lovely place to call my own, all within a few short days. I met wonderful people and saw amazing things with my job as a County Appraiser, affording me the luxury to travel to main and remote, outer islands, which is indescribable. I have come to realize that my going there is what I needed to do. I needed time, space and quiet (it’s so quiet there you literally feel that you are going deaf for the first few weeks – no lie) to connect to nature, peace and myself. I needed it to reorganize my life going forward after grown kids leaving home, and an increasingly unhappy work life. In a sense, I just really needed to get my shit together, so I could venture into the next phase of my life with a more clear view of how I wanted that life to look. I now understand that I most certainly did.
2nd Leg: My adult son suggested I move to Los Angeles, where he lives, to spend some time with him and be a support to each other. I thought about it and decided that it would be a great adventure. A new city and spending time with him was a win-win. Once I landed there, I began the grueling process of looking for a job. While I earned a few check through an employment agency at first, I was not being offered any full-time, well-paying positions. 2 months in and I had to figure out where to live, due to the strain of crashing in his studio apartment with him and his roommate – not ideal.
I found a gentlemen on the internet who rents out vans in the Venice Beach/Marina del Rey area. They call him the Venice Vanlord. The rent is cheap ($250/month) and although I did not get a key to the ignition, It was clean, registered, insured (all by him) and parked in a nice, legal area. I decided to look for work within a 1 mile radius so I could walk there and avoid traffic and public transportation. I was running out of funds when I miraculously landed a part-time permanent job as a barista. It’s funny how before I left Denver, I would tell friends and colleagues ” well I might just go sling coffee at the beach”- true story. I then found myself doing just that.
Within the first several months of van life, I managed to complete and self publish my book. I also managed to start a small internet business for a product that I created over 17 years ago, but had never pursued. I can thank my son for that one, as he not only encouraged me but helped me brainstorm, designed my logo and my product labels. So much gratitude to him for his amazing support and love. I went so far as to pitch my product at a Shark Tank audition and was called back within 2 days for the second phase. That was in March, and I have not heard back from the since. But, that’s OK. I brought my idea to life before I even thought about Shark Tank and while sales are not great yet, the experience only encouraged me even more to keep it going.
All the while I was able to enjoy the area, explore the beaches and make enough money to actually have shelter, eat out once a week and live relatively stress free. I also helped my son through some very tough situations and I got to witness first hand the struggles that so many young people go through just to get by in this crazy-ass world of today. My son and I went to the beach, out to dinner, movies and hung out as often as possible. Once he moved into a more suitable living arrangement, I felt such relief for him, and he began to slowly get his life back and continue following his paths.
Then, something began to shift that at first I didn’t notice. My employment began to change. People were either being promoted or quitting and it was dramatically increasing my hours at work. Our staffing gradually became a nightmare for me. I found myself working 50 average hours weekly, on a wonky schedule that would come to mean 9-10 days in a row without a day off. I would be scheduled to work very late one night, then very early the next morning. Sure, the larger paycheck was nice but the hours began to take a toll on my 52-year-old hips, back and especially my knees. It got to the point where all I was doing was working and catching up on sleep, at times crashing for 10-12 hours straight. I was slowly being kept from pursuing anything for weeks. I was exhausted both physically and mentally. With no light at the end of the tunnel and no new hires on the horizon, I stepped up my job search and began to apply, apply, apply. I needed better hours and benefits. I needed structure, and I needed it now. But, 50 plus applications and no call backs or interviews dampened my situation even more. While I was grateful for my job and shelter, I was beginning to lose faith.
About a week ago I received a phone call from a dear friend in Denver, who I regularly keep in touch with since I had left. She told me that there was an opening at her Company and that not only should I apply, but that it would pretty much be mine if I wanted it (it really is who you know sometimes ). I would have a place to stay and a vehicle to use until I got things together. This all hit me like a ton of bricks. I have been very deliberate in my life these last few years but I now found myself looking through a window that would surely and quickly close. Do I jump through it? Then, another situation came up the very next day that involved my other son back in Denver, and that became the catalyst to make my decision. NEW better paying job with benefits – √ ! A place to land and transportation for a bit – √ ! The opportunity to be around not only my other son, but my daughter who lives there as well – √ ! It was as if the Universe opened up and said “here you go! Job, housing and family – just not in LA ….”
Today, that is where I find myself. Within 48 hours I gave notice to my barista job, my Vanlord, and I got a one-way plane ticket. I am gathering my few belongings, giving away some to other van-dwellers and donating the rest. Once again I will be on a plane with one suitcase that contains my life. While Los Angeles was never a stop that I felt would be forever, I have to reconcile that this was not a failure, that I am heading to my next adventure and I am returning to Denver with so much more than what I left with. I have made great friends here, explored fun places and created some amazing stuff along this leg. I am only sad to leave my son, but I also know now that my purpose for coming here has been completed after all – we both needed each other to get to our respective next adventures – full triangle here I come.