I used to be full of love.
Back in 2011, moving to LA was a great kick in the pants for me – the reset button I needed after my four final, difficult years in New York City.
Even though I lost the job that moved me out here, I decided to stay in LA, and not just because I loved its sunshine, and the year-round ability to swim outside, go hiking, and ride my bike.
I loved LA.
Now...I'm not so sure.
I'm not so sure I love anything anymore.
In dire times such as these, I used to seek solace in my apartment, my gorgeous apartment in a charming Art Deco building in Beverly Hills, the nicest neighborhood you could imagine for a hand-me-down girl like me. But when I lost my job in April and began working for my landlady so I could keep paying the rent, everything went sour. Home was work; work was home. I was on call all day and all night, throughout the week and weekends. Boundaries ceased to exist. I ceased to be a tenant, with tenant's rights. I fielded accusatory emails in ALL CAPS from the woman who controlled my living conditions. My own (legit) residential complaints were ignored, my every intention questioned.
And now, heartbreakingly, I hate it here, and can't wait to get away from it all when my lease is up in April.
But where will I go?
When I got laid off in April, I sought a sense of purpose and a feeling of usefulness everywhere around me. I welcomed volunteering. I went way beyond the call of duty for my job as field agent for Atlas Obscura – which, in some ways, had been a dream job for me, working for my favorite website. But beware of working with what you love, because, like the music industry for music lovers, it kind of ruins it for you. And sometimes, when you try to help, when you take initiative, when you work really hard and spend a lot of time on something, your efforts aren't welcomed. Your motives come off as suspicious. You're bossy. You're too opinionated, with a endless supply of criticisms. And so you're ignored, which just makes it worse because you try harder to make your helpful recommendations not fall upon deaf ears. And, after many unpleasant confrontations and a few tears, you finally realize you are fighting a losing battle. You give up, and you shut up. And you don't love it anymore. And you may never again.
Even despite the car accident which rendered me whiplashed, socially awkward, and dyslexic, I tried so hard to remain relevant and indispensable, in whichever ways I could. Even though I was in constant physical pain. Even though I couldn't have a normal spontaneous conversation, especially with strangers. But I could recite rehearsed lines, and I could bypass dyslexia enough to read off a page, so I continued to attend my beloved Tuesday night cold reading series, the first community to welcome me to LA after I moved here. I even managed to fill in as co-host, somehow finding the right spiel to say in front of 100 people when I had a hard time conjuring words in one-on-one encounters. But somehow, after our annual summer break and the time spent apart, absence made my heart grow colder, and I don't love it anymore. I've had a hard time going back since we resumed in September: I've skipped several weeks and have left early the times I have managed to go. I was so devoted to it for so long – I arrived early and stayed late, every week – and now...I just...can't.
I was looking forward to October because the month-long celebration of Halloween always soothes me, but somehow, this year, I'm not getting much out of it. I've got my costumes together, but I'm not looking forward to wearing them. So far, I haven't been filling my calendar with spooky adventures or haunted houses. Not like before, anyway.
So what can I do? What does "do it" for me anymore? Not record shopping, which is how I would pass hours of my time back in New York City. Not talking on the phone to my friends, who I used to call daily. Not even giving out my phone number, or meeting new guys, or getting taken out to dinner. I don't want to do any of it.
I'm tired of trying.
When I moved to LA, I absorbed it voraciously. I took my ethos of "avoiding regret" very seriously. I took every road trip I could. I crossed every place off my list. I got up at dawn to go hiking in some far-flung locale, changed my clothes at the car, bathed in public restrooms, and spent all day out on adventures, saving enough energy to tear up the night without a nap.
I burned myself out.
I guess I knew it could happen, but I was worried about leaving LA, or LA changing, before I could experience everything. I was worried about leaving a stone unturned.
And now that I'm still here, I don't know what there is left for me. I don't know that I have any energy for those stones that surely do remain.
Maybe LA is too big for me.
Maybe I'm not as strong as I thought I was.
Maybe I just ran out of love.
Love Is the Drug
To Say "I Love You"